Most people are aware of the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can come as a surprise. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, people in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Your hearing could be harmed by certain 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 individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can make their way to the delicate nerves of the ears once they get into the body. Noise exposure will multiply the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, recognized five kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous to hearing:
- Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries might get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are frequently put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove contain nitriles such as acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also result in hearing loss.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. You can figure out if any medications you might be using present any dangers to your hearing by consulting your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and consult your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
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. Whatever safety equipment that is supplied 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 adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use proper 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 type of situation, take extra precautions. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing exams so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in dealing with the various causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to prevent further damage.