Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can be surprising. While there are several groups of people at risk, those in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. You can safeguard your quality of life by being aware of what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Certain chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically affected by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They can absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can travel to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will increase the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five types of chemicals that can be harmful to hearing:
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, that includes things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are frequently produced by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in some industries such as insulation and plastics. Wear all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss in addition to the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals often.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should 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. Any safety equipment that is available to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
When you are at home, go over all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of scenario, use extra precautions. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing assessments so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to avoid further damage.