There are many well recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, those in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. You can safeguard your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be harmed by some chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help with hearing. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can make their way to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they enter the body. Noise exposure will increase the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to hearing:
- 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.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can result in hearing loss in addition to the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the amount of oxygen in the air and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Solvents – Specific industries such as plastics and insulation use solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Wear all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
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, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. You need to utilize every safety material your job offers, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
When you are at home, go over all safety labels on products and follow the instructions to the letter. If you can, keep away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and request help with any instructions you can’t understand. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of scenario, take 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 stay away from chemicals. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to avoid any further damage.
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