There are numerous commonly known causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that certain chemicals present to their hearing. There is an increased exposure risk for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Your quality of life can be enhanced by recognizing what these chemicals are and how to protect yourself.
Select Chemicals Are Harmful to Your Hearing. Why?
The term “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears which assist our hearing. Some chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at work or at home. These chemicals can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation, or through the skin. These chemicals, once they’re absorbed into the body, will travel into the ear, affecting the delicate nerves. The resultant hearing loss might be temporary or permanent, and the impact is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to your hearing have been confirmed by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can cause damage to your hearing. Talk to your primary physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards posed by your medications.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in select industries like insulation and plastics. Be certain that if you work in one of these industries, you use all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer about your level of exposure.
- Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be caused by metals like mercury and lead which also have other negative health effects. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries could be exposed to these metals regularly.
- Asphyxiants – Things like tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide contain asphyxiants which reduce the amount of oxygen in the air. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may produce unsafe levels of these chemicals.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be practical because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
If You Are Subjected to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Should You do?
The trick to safeguarding your hearing from chemical exposure is to take precautions. If you work in a sector like automotive, fire-fighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals. Be sure you make use of every safety material your job provides, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Be sure you follow all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you use them. Use correct ventilation, including opening windows, and staying away from any chemicals or asking for assistance if you can’t understand any of the labels. Take added precautions if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals because the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. Try to get ahead of any potential problems by having a routine hearing test if you are on medications or if you can’t avoid chemicals. Hearing specialists are experienced in dealing with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you figure out a plan to prevent further damage.