Most people know about the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also lead to hearing loss which can come as a surprise. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, those in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. Being aware of what these harmful 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 of the ears can be toxically affected by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” in the workplace or at home. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they enter the body. Noise exposure will multiply the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five kinds of chemicals that can damage your hearing were identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture industries may get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is decreased by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in some industries such as insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and consult your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. You can find out if any medications you may be taking present any hazards to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
Taking key precautions is the ideal way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Ask your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. You need to utilize all safety equipment your job offers, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and follow all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use proper 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 are around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing tests so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to avoid any further damage.
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