Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can be surprising. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can safeguard your quality of life by being aware of what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be damaged 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. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can travel to the delicate 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:
- Solvents – Specific industries including plastics and insulation utilize solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Use all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can cause hearing loss on top of the damage they can do to other parts of the body. People may regularly 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, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are often put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 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 harm your hearing.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
Taking key precautions is the best way to protect your hearing from exposure to chemicals. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make sure you use every safety material your job supplies, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and adhere to all of the safety guidelines listed on product labels. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and request help with any instructions you can’t comprehend. Take extra precautions 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 exams so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the various causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to prevent further damage.
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