Most people are familiar with the common causes of hearing loss but don’t recognize the hazards that commonplace chemicals pose to their hearing. There is an greater exposure risk for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Your quality of life can be enhanced by recognizing what these chemicals are and how to protect yourself.
Select Chemicals Are Harmful 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 work or at home, people can come in contact with ototoxic chemicals. They might absorb these chemicals through the skin, ingest, or inhale them. These chemicals, once they get into the body, will go into the ear, affecting the delicate nerves. The impact is even worse when it comes with high levels of noise exposure, leading to temporary or permanent loss of hearing.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five kinds of chemicals which can be detrimental to your hearing:
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs such as diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Any questions about medication that you may be taking should be reviewed with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
- Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be caused by metals like mercury and lead which also have other harmful health effects. These metals are commonly found in the metal fabrication and furniture industries.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the amount of oxygen in the air, and consist of things like tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide. Unsafe levels of these chemicals can be produced by gas tools, vehicles, stoves and other appliances.
- Nitriles – Things like super glue, latex gloves, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Even though your hearing can be damaged by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the benefit of repelling water.
- Solvents – Specific industries including plastics and insulation use solvents such as carbon disulfide and styrene in manufacturing. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.
If You Are Subjected to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Should You do?
Taking precautions is the key to safeguarding your hearing. If you work in a sector like plastics, automotive, fire-fighting, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make sure you utilize every safety material your job supplies, like protective garment, gloves, and masks.
Be certain you adhere to all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you use them. When you are using any chemicals, if you don’t understand the label, get help, and use correct ventilation. Noise and chemicals 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 regular hearing exam if you are on medications or if you can’t steer clear of chemicals. Hearing specialists have experience with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you figure out a plan to avoid further damage.