Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also lead to hearing loss which can be surprising. While there are several groups of people at risk, individuals in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. Being aware of what these hazardous chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Some chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help us hear. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can make their way to the delicate nerves of the ears once they enter the body. Noise exposure will multiply the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can damage your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other negative effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. People could frequently be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can find out if any medications you may be using pose any hazards to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, that includes things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in some industries such as insulation and plastics. If you work in these industries, talk to your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you might have, and use all of your safety equipment.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also cause hearing loss.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The ideal way to protect your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. Ask your employer about your level of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Whatever safety equipment that is supplied to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
Read and follow all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and ask for help with any instructions you don’t comprehend. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of situation, use extra precautions. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing exams so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to avoid any further damage.