Most people are aware of the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can be surprising. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, people in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. 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 word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help us hear. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals in the workplace or at home. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive 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 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.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the amount of oxygen in the air and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful levels of these chemicals are frequently put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other negative effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture industries may get exposed to these metals often.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. If you work in these industries, consult your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. You can figure out if any medications you might be using pose any dangers to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
Taking key precautions is the best way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Consult your employer about your degree 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, use all of it.
Read and adhere to all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. If you can, keep away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and ask for help with any instructions you don’t comprehend. 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. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing assessments so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to avoid any further damage.