There are lots of well recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. At risk groups include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. 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 ears themselves or the nerves inside 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. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can travel to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. The resulting hearing loss may be temporary or long-term, and the impact is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can damage your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss in addition to the damage they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals may frequently be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Solvents – Specific industries including plastics and insulation use 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 sectors.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of 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.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. You can learn if any medications you may be using pose 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?
The best way to protect your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make sure you use all safety equipment your job offers, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
When you are at home, read all safety materials on products and follow the instructions to the letter. If you can, keep away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and request help with any instructions you can’t understand. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of scenario, use extra precautions. 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 develop a plan to prevent any further damage.