Most people know about the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can come as a surprise. While there are several groups of people at risk, those in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. You can protect your quality of life by being aware of what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Some chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. 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 permanent, and the effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous to hearing:
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Talk to your physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards posed by your medications.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the quantity of oxygen in the air and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in some industries such as insulation and plastics. If you work in these industries, consult your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you might have, and use all of your safety equipment.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products such as 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.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other negative effects on the body, but they can also lead to hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries might get exposed to these metals often.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
Taking key precautions is the ideal way to protect your hearing from exposure to chemicals. If you work in an industry such as automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. You need to utilize all safety equipment your job provides, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and adhere to all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t understand any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of scenario, take extra precautions. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing assessments so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you make a plan to avoid any further damage.