Most people know about the common causes of hearing loss, but certain 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. Being aware of what these hazardous chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Some chemicals could be harmful to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can make their way to the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or long-term, and the impact is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can damage your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss in addition to the damage they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals may frequently be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also cause hearing loss.
- Solvents – Specific industries including plastics and insulation utilize solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Use all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- 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.
What can 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, including gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
Read and adhere to all of the safety guidelines listed on product labels. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to decipher 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, use extra precautions. 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 are experienced in dealing with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to prevent further damage.