Most people are aware of the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can come as a surprise. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, individuals in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. You can safeguard your quality of life by being aware of 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 impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals in the workplace or at home. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they get into the body. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or permanent, and the effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can damage your hearing were identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Solvents – Certain industries such as plastics and insulation utilize 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 may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also result in hearing loss.
- 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 sectors may get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can figure out if any medications you may be taking present any hazards to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the best way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. If you work in an industry such as automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. You need to utilize all safety equipment your job provides, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
When you are at home, read all safety labels on products and follow the instructions to the letter. If you can, keep away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and ask for help with any instructions you don’t understand. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of situation, use extra precautions. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing examinations so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the various causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to prevent further damage.