Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also lead to 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 greater exposure. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Certain chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” in the workplace or at home. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can make their way to the delicate nerves of the ears once they get into the body. Noise exposure will multiply the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can damage your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other negative effects on the body, but they can also result in hearing loss. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals often.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. You can find out if any medications you may be using present any hazards to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is decreased by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Solvents – Certain industries including plastics and insulation utilize solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Wear all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- 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 damage your hearing.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The ideal way to protect your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. 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.
Read and adhere to all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to understand any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of scenario, take extra precautions. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular screenings if you are using any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We are experienced in dealing with the various causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to avoid further damage.