There are numerous commonly known causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the hazards that certain chemicals pose to their hearing. There is an increased exposure hazard for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Your quality of life can be improved by realizing what these chemicals are and how to be protected.
Why Are Select Chemicals Harmful to Your Hearing?
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic impact on either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears which help us hear. At work or at home, individuals can come in contact with ototoxic chemicals. These chemicals can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation, or through the skin. These chemicals, once they get into the body, will travel into the ear, impacting the delicate nerves. The effect is even worse with high levels of noise exposure, leading to temporary or permanent hearing loss.
Five kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous to your hearing have been defined by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Talk to your primary physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers presented by your medications.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air, and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Unsafe levels of these chemicals can be produced by gas tools, vehicles, stoves and other appliances.
- Solvents – Solvents, including styrene and carbon disulfide, are used in select industries like plastics and insulation. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about how much exposure you might have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Nitriles – Nitriles including 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 practical because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
- Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be caused by metals like lead and mercury which also have other negative health effects. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries could be exposed to these metals frequently.
What Should You do if You’re subjected to Ototoxic Chemicals?
The solution to safeguarding your hearing from chemical exposure is to take precautions. If you work in an industry such as automotive, fire-fighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals. Make sure you utilize every safety material your job offers, like protective garment, gloves, and masks.
Make sure you follow all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you take them. Use correct ventilation, including opening windows, and staying away from any chemicals or asking for help if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Take extra precautions if you are exposed to noise at the same time as chemicals as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. Try to nip any potential problem in the bud by having a routine hearing test if you are on medications or if you can’t steer clear of chemicals. The numerous causes of hearing loss are well known to hearing specialists so set up an appointment for a hearing exam in order to stop further damage.