There are lots of commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, people in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Your hearing could be harmed by certain chemicals
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically affected by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Specific 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. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can travel to the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will multiply the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can harm your hearing were identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. People may regularly be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. If you work in these industries, consult your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are frequently put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in making products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
The ideal way to protect your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. Ask your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. You need to utilize all safety equipment your job provides, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and adhere to all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and ask for help with any instructions you can’t understand. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of scenario, use extra precautions. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular screenings if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t avoid chemicals. We can use our experience to help you develop a plan to prevent any further damage.
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