Most people are familiar with the common causes of hearing loss but don’t comprehend the risks that everyday 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.
Select 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 that assist our hearing. At home or in the workplace, individuals can be exposed to ototoxic chemicals. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, ingest, or inhale them. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can affect the sensitive nerves and other portions of the ear. The impact is even worse with high levels of noise exposure, leading to temporary or long-term loss of hearing.
Five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to your hearing have been confirmed by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:
- Pharmaceuticals – Hearing can be damaged by medications like diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics. Any questions about medication that you might be taking should be talked over with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
- Solvents – Certain industries like plastics and insulation use solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Be sure that if you work in one of these industries, you use all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer about your level of exposure.
- Metals and Compounds – Metals such as lead and mercury have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. These metals are frequently found in the metal fabrication and furniture industries.
- Asphyxiants – Things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke contain asphyxiants which lowered the amount of oxygen in the air. Unsafe levels of these chemicals can be produced by vehicles, gas tools, stoves and other appliances.
- Nitriles – Nitriles including 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used to make products such as super glue, automotive rubber and seals, and latex gloves. Though your hearing can be damaged by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the benefit of repelling water.
If You Are Exposed to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Can You do?
Taking precautions is the trick to safeguarding your hearing. If you work in a sector such as plastics, automotive, fire-fighting, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. If your workplace supplies safety equipment including protective garments, masks, or gloves, use them.
Make sure you observe all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you take them. When you are using any chemicals, if you don’t understand the label, ask for help, and use proper ventilation. Take added precautions if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals because the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have routine hearing tests so you can try to get ahead of any problems. Hearing specialists have experience with the various causes of hearing loss and can help you figure out a plan to avoid further damage.