There are many commonly known causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that some chemicals pose to their hearing. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can protect your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Certain chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically affected 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. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can travel to the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will multiply the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five kinds of chemicals that can damage your hearing were identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss on top of the damage they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals could regularly be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, that includes things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are often produced by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Solvents – Specific industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these fields, consult your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you might have, and use all of your safety equipment.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards posed by your medications.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove contain nitriles such as acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the ideal 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 use all safety equipment your job supplies, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.
When you are at home, go over all safety materials on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t understand any of the labels. 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. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular screenings if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t avoid chemicals. We can use our experience to help you make a plan to prevent any further damage.
Call Today to Set Up an Appointment