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Hazard pictogram of occupational chemical hazards that could cause hearing loss

There are many well known causes of hearing loss, but not many people realize the dangers that some chemicals pose to their hearing. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. Knowing what these harmful chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help preserve your quality of life.

Your hearing could be harmed by some chemicals

The ears themselves or the nerves 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. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive 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 kinds of chemicals that can harm your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:

  • Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. You can figure out if any medications you may be using present any hazards to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
  • Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in producing products such as 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.
  • Solvents – Certain industries including plastics and insulation utilize solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Use all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
  • Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss in addition to the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals could frequently be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
  • Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, that includes things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful levels of these chemicals.

What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?

The best 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. Whatever safety equipment that is available to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.

When you are at home, read all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to understand any of the labels. Take extra precautions if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect 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 stay away from chemicals. We are experienced in addressing the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to avoid further damage.

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References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4693596/

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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