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. You can safeguard your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be damaged by some chemicals
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically affected by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can travel to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will increase the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can harm your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is decreased by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Talk to your physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards posed by your medications.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also result in hearing loss. People may frequently be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in certain industries like insulation and plastics. Wear all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- 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.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
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, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Any safety equipment that is available to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
When you are at home, read all safety labels on products and follow the instructions to the letter. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate 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 type of scenario, take extra precautions. 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 are experienced in dealing with the various causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to prevent further damage.