There are many well known causes of hearing loss, but not many people realize the dangers that some chemicals pose to their hearing. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can safeguard your quality of life by being aware of what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be damaged by some chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help us hear. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals in the workplace or at home. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can make their way to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or long-term, and the effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five types of chemicals that can damage your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also cause hearing loss.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss on top of the damage they can do to other parts of the body. People may frequently be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Solvents – Specific industries including plastics and insulation utilize solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Wear all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards posed by your medications.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the quantity of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the ideal way to protect your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Consult your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. You need to utilize all safety equipment your job offers, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and follow all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and request help with any instructions you can’t comprehend. Use extra safety measures if you’re around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing tests so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you make a plan to prevent any further damage.