Most people are informed about the known causes of hearing loss but don’t realize the dangers that everyday chemicals present to their hearing. While there are several groups of people in danger, those in industries including textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. Your quality of life can be improved by realizing what these chemicals are and how to protect yourself.
Some Chemicals Are Harmful to Your Hearing. Why?
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic impact on either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears which assist our hearing. At work or at home, people 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 sensitive nerves. The resulting hearing loss might be temporary or long-term, and the impact is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous to your hearing have been recognized by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:
- Pharmaceuticals – Hearing can be damaged by drugs like antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics. Any worries about medication that you might be taking should be discussed with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
- Asphyxiants – Things like tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide contain asphyxiants which reduce the level of oxygen in the air. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may produce harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Solvents – Solvents, including styrene and carbon disulfide, are used in select industries like plastics and insulation. Be sure that if you work in one of these industries, you use all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer about your level of exposure.
- Nitriles – Things like super glue, latex gloves, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles like acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
- Metals and Compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. People in the metal fabrication or furniture industries could get exposed to these metals regularly.
If You Are Exposed to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Can You do?
Taking precautions is the key to protecting your hearing. Consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals if you work in the pesticide spraying, construction, plastics, automotive, or fire-fighting industries. Make certain you make use of every safety material your job offers, like protective garment, gloves, and masks.
When you are home, read all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions 100 percent. When you are using any chemicals, if you don’t understand the label, ask for help, and use proper ventilation. Chemicals and noise can have a cumulative effect 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 steer clear of chemicals. The numerous causes of hearing loss are well known to hearing specialists so set up an appointment for a hearing test in order to prevent further damage.