Many people are informed about the known causes of hearing loss but don’t recognize the risks that everyday chemicals pose to their hearing. There is an increased exposure risk for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Certain Chemicals Are Detrimental to Your Hearing. Why?
Something that has a toxic effect on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. Particular chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at work or at home. They might absorb these chemicals through the skin, ingest, or inhale them. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can travel to the delicate nerves and other portions of the ear. The effect is even worse with high levels of noise exposure, leading to temporary or permanent loss of hearing.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, discovered five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to your hearing:
- Pharmaceuticals – Hearing can be damaged by medications like diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics. Any concerns about medication that you might be taking should be reviewed with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products such as super glue, automotive rubber and seals, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
- Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be triggered by metals like mercury and lead which also have other negative health effects. These metals are frequently found in the metal fabrication and furniture industries.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air, and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, stoves, gas tools, and other appliances may put out dangerous levels of these chemicals.
- Solvents – Some industries such as plastics and insulation use solvents such as carbon disulfide and styrene in manufacturing. Make sure that if you work in one of these industries, you wear all of your safety equipment and consult your workplace safety officer about your level of exposure.
If You Are Exposed to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Can You do?
Taking precautions is the trick to protecting your hearing. If you work in a sector like automotive, fire-fighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals. Be certain you use every safety material your job supplies, such as protective garment, gloves, and masks.
Make sure you adhere to all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you use them. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, and staying away from any chemicals or asking for help if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Chemicals and noise can have a cumulative impact on your hearing, so if you are around both at the same time, take added precautions. Try to get ahead of any potential problems by having a regular hearing exam if you are on medications or if you can’t steer clear of chemicals. Hearing specialists are experienced in dealing with the various causes of hearing loss and can help you figure out a plan to stop further damage.