Most people know about the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also lead to hearing loss which can come as a surprise. Groups that are at risk 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 harmed 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 with hearing. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals in the workplace or at home. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they enter the body. The resulting hearing loss might 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 recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also result in hearing loss.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can determine if any medications you might be using pose any hazards to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- 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. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture industries may get exposed to these metals often.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in certain industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, speak with your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you might 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. Make sure you use all safety equipment your job provides, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and follow all of the safety guidelines listed on product labels. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and ask for 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 impact on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing exams so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you make a plan to avoid any further damage.