There are numerous commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people recognize the hazards that certain chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are several groups of people in danger, those in industries including textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Your quality of life can be enhanced by realizing what these chemicals are and how to be protected.
Select Chemicals Are Detrimental to Your Hearing. Why?
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears which help us hear. Particular chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. These chemicals, once they get into the body, will go into the ear, impacting the sensitive nerves. The resultant hearing loss might be temporary or long-term, and the effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, recognized five kinds of chemicals which can be detrimental to your hearing:
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs including diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Any concerns about medication that you might be taking should be talked over with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
- Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be triggered by metals like mercury and lead which also have other harmful health effects. People in the metal fabrication or furniture industries could be exposed to these metals frequently.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air, and consist of things like tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances might produce dangerous levels of these chemicals.
- Solvents – Specific industries like plastics and insulation use solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these fields, speak with your workplace safety officer about the level 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 super glue, automotive rubber and seals, and latex gloves. Although your hearing can be harmed by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the advantage of repelling water.
What Should You do if You’re Exposed to Ototoxic Chemicals?
Taking precautions is the key to safeguarding your hearing. If you work in a sector such as automotive, fire-fighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals. If your workplace supplies safety equipment such as protective masks, gloves, or garments, use them.
Be certain you observe all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you use them. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, and staying away from any chemicals or asking for assistance if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing, so if you are around both at the same time, take added precautions. Try to nip any potential problem in the bud by having a routine hearing exam if you are on medications or if you can’t steer clear of chemicals. Hearing specialists are experienced in dealing with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to avoid further damage.