There are many well recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that some chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are several groups of people at risk, people in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Certain chemicals could be harmful to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help with hearing. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” in the workplace or at home. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can make their way to the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will increase the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, identified five types of chemicals that can be hazardous to hearing:
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. You can learn if any medications you may be taking present any dangers to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. People may frequently be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the quantity 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.
- Solvents – Certain industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Use all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in making products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be useful because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The ideal 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. You need to use all safety equipment your job offers, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and adhere to all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to decipher any of the labels. Use extra safety measures if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. Try to stay a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular hearing exams if you are using any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We can use our experience to help you develop a plan to prevent any further damage.