Most people know about the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can be surprising. At risk groups include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can protect your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Certain chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help us hear. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. They can absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they enter the body. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or long-term, and the effect is even 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 harmful to hearing:
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. You can find out if any medications you may be using pose any hazards to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also result in hearing loss.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the quantity 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.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in some industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these industries, talk to your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you might have, and use all of your safety equipment.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also result in hearing loss. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors may get exposed to these metals often.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The best way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. 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 supplied to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
Read and follow all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Take extra precautions if you’re around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by having regular hearing exams if you are using any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to prevent any further damage.