Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also lead to hearing loss which can be surprising. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. Being aware of what these hazardous chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help protect your quality of life.
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. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” in the workplace or at home. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can travel to the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or long-term, and the impact is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, recognized five types of chemicals that can be hazardous to hearing:
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in some industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, consult your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you might have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the amount of oxygen in the air and include 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 mercury and lead have other negative effects on the body, but they can also result in hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries may get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The ideal way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. Consult 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, make use of all of it.
When you are at home, read all safety materials on products and adhere to 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 comprehend. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect 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 tests so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to prevent any further damage.