There are many well known causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that some chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, individuals in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. You can safeguard your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Certain chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically affected by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can make their way to the delicate nerves of the ears once they enter the body. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or long-term, and the impact is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five types of chemicals that can harm your hearing were identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in producing products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss on top of the harm they can do to other parts of the body. People in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Solvents – Specific industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these industries, speak with your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is decreased by asphyxiants, that includes things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Talk to your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
Taking key precautions is the best way to protect your hearing from exposure to chemicals. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Any safety equipment that is provided to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
When you are at home, read all safety materials on products and follow the instructions to the letter. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t understand any of the labels. Use extra safety measures if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing exams so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in dealing with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to prevent further damage.