Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also lead to hearing loss which can come as a surprise. While there are several groups of people at risk, people in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Knowing what these harmful chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Your hearing could be damaged by some chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help us hear. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. They may 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 get into the body. Noise exposure will increase the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can damage your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also cause hearing loss.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Solvents – Specific industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Use all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can result in hearing loss in addition to the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals often.
- Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is decreased by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful levels of these chemicals are often put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
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 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 supplies, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
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 are unable to decipher 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. Try to stay a step ahead of hearing loss by getting 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 make a plan to avoid any further damage.