Most people are familiar with the known causes of hearing loss but don’t recognize the hazards that commonplace chemicals present 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 enhanced by realizing what these chemicals are and how to protect yourself.
Some Chemicals Are Hazardous to Your Hearing. Why?
Something that has a toxic effect on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. At home or in the workplace, individuals can come in contact with ototoxic chemicals. They might absorb these chemicals through the skin, ingest, or inhale them. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can affect the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. The effect is even worse with high levels of noise exposure, resulting in temporary or permanent loss of hearing.
Five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to your hearing have been identified by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs like antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Any concerns about medication that you may be taking should be discussed with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
- Metals and Compounds – Metals like lead and mercury have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries could be exposed to these metals frequently.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air, and include things like tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide. Harmful levels of these chemicals can be produced by vehicles, gas tools, stoves and other appliances.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used to make products such as super glue, automotive rubber and seals, and latex gloves. Even though your hearing can be damaged by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the advantage of repelling water.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in some industries like plastics and insulation. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you might have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
What Should You do if You’re subjected to Ototoxic Chemicals?
The key to protecting your hearing from exposure to chemicals is to take precautions. Consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals if you work in the pesticide spraying, construction, plastics, automotive, or fire-fighting fields. Be certain you use every safety material your job offers, like protective garment, gloves, and masks.
When you are home, read all safety labels on products and follow the instructions 100 percent. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, and staying away from any chemicals or asking for assistance if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing, so if you are around both at the same time, take extra precautions. Try to get ahead of any potential problems by having a routine hearing test if you are on medications or if you can’t avoid chemicals. The various causes of hearing loss are well understood by hearing specialists so make an appointment for a hearing test in order to stop further damage.