There are numerous commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. There is an increased exposure risk for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Your quality of life can be improved by recognizing what these chemicals are and how to protect yourself.
Why Are Select Chemicals Harmful to Your Hearing?
The term “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic impact on either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that assist our hearing. At home or in the workplace, individuals can come in contact with ototoxic chemicals. They might absorb these chemicals through the skin, ingest, or inhale them. These chemicals, once they’re absorbed into the body, will go into the ear, impacting the delicate nerves. The resultant hearing loss could be temporary or long-term, and the effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five types of chemicals that can be hazardous to your hearing have been recognized by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:
- Pharmaceuticals – Hearing can be damaged by drugs like diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics. Any worries about medication that you might be taking should be discussed with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
- Nitriles – Nitriles including 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
- Metals and Compounds – Metals including lead and mercury have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also lead to hearing loss. These metals are typically found in the furniture and metal fabrication industries.
- Asphyxiants – Things like tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide contain asphyxiants which lowered the level of oxygen in the air. Unsafe levels of these chemicals can be produced by vehicles, gas tools, stoves and other appliances.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as styrene and carbon disulfide, are used in select industries like plastics and insulation. Make sure that if you work in one of these industries, you wear all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer about your level of exposure.
If You Are Subjected to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Should You do?
Taking precautions is the trick to safeguarding your hearing. If you work in an industry including automotive, fire-fighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make sure you make use of every safety material your job supplies, like protective garment, gloves, and masks.
Be certain you adhere to all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you take them. When you are using any chemicals, if your not sure about what the label means, ask for help, and use proper ventilation. Take additional precautions if you are exposed to noise at the same time as chemicals because the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing tests so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. Hearing specialists have experience with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to avoid further damage.