Most people are aware of the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can be surprising. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, individuals in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Some chemicals could be harmful to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals 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. The resulting hearing loss might be temporary or long-term, and the effect is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five types of chemicals that can damage your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Solvents – Certain industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these fields, speak with your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you might have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized 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.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards posed by your medications.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also result in hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, that includes 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.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The best way to safeguard 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, including gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
Read and adhere to all of the safety guidelines listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to decipher any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of scenario, take extra precautions. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by having regular hearing exams if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t avoid chemicals. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to avoid any further damage.