Most people are aware of the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can come as a surprise. At risk groups include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can safeguard your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be damaged by certain chemicals
The ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” in the workplace or at home. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can travel to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will multiply the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five kinds of chemicals that can damage your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can cause hearing loss in addition to the damage they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals could frequently be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be useful because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can learn if any medications you may be taking pose any dangers to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in certain industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these industries, speak with your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
Taking key precautions is the best way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Ask your employer about your level of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Whatever safety equipment that is supplied to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
When you are at home, go over all safety labels on products and follow the instructions to the letter. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and ask for help with any instructions you don’t understand. 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, be certain you have regular hearing assessments so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to avoid any further damage.