There are many commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that certain chemicals pose to their hearing. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. Being aware of what these hazardous chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Your hearing could be harmed by some chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help us hear. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and people 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 get into the body. Noise exposure will increase the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five kinds of chemicals that can harm your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Solvents – Certain industries including plastics and insulation use solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these industries, talk to your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can cause hearing loss on top of the damage they can do to other parts of the body. People may regularly be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles such as acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
- 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 often put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
Taking key precautions is the ideal way to protect your hearing from exposure to chemicals. 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 utilize every safety material 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 can’t understand any of the labels. Use extra safety measures if you’re around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular screenings if you are using any ototoxic medications or you can’t avoid chemicals. We are experienced in addressing the various causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to prevent further damage.