There are many commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people realize the dangers that some chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are several groups of people at risk, people in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Knowing what these harmful chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Your hearing could be damaged by certain chemicals
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. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they enter the body. The resulting hearing loss might be temporary or long-term, and the impact is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, recognized five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to hearing:
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. Wear all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss on top of the harm they can do to other parts of the body. People in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors may get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the quantity of oxygen in the air and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also cause hearing loss.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the ideal way to safeguard 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. Whatever safety equipment that is provided to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
Read and follow all of the safety guidelines listed on product labels. If you can, keep away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and ask for help with any instructions you can’t comprehend. Use extra safety measures if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing exams so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you develop a plan to avoid any further damage.
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