There are lots of well recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people realize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. At risk groups include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can safeguard your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Some chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically affected 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. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can travel 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, recognized five kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous to hearing:
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also cause hearing loss.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can result in hearing loss in addition to the damage they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals could regularly be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in certain industries like insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and consult your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the quantity of oxygen in the air and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- 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.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
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. You need to utilize every safety material your job offers, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and follow all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t understand 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 having regular hearing exams if you are using any ototoxic medications or you can’t avoid chemicals. We are experienced in dealing with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to prevent further damage.