Most people are familiar with the known causes of hearing loss but don’t realize the risks that commonplace chemicals present to their hearing. While there are a number of groups of people in danger, those in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Recognizing what these dangerous chemicals are and what safeguards you should take could help protect your quality of life.
Why Are Some Chemicals Detrimental to Your Hearing?
Something that has a toxic impact 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 may absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. These chemicals, once they’re absorbed into the body, will travel into the ear, affecting the sensitive nerves. The effect is even worse when it comes with high levels of noise exposure, resulting in temporary or long-term loss of hearing.
Five kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous to your hearing have been defined by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:
- Pharmaceuticals – Hearing can be damaged by medications like diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics. Any concerns about medication that you might be taking should be talked over 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.
- Solvents – Certain industries like plastics and insulation use solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Be certain that if you work in one of these industries, you wear all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer about your level of exposure.
- Asphyxiants – Things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke contain asphyxiants which lower the level of oxygen in the air. Vehicles, stoves, gas tools, and other appliances could produce dangerous levels of these chemicals.
- Nitriles – Nitriles including 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used to make products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be practical because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
If You Are Exposed to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Can You do?
Taking precautions is the key to safeguarding your hearing. If you work in a sector including plastics, automotive, fire-fighting, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals. Make certain you use every safety material your job offers, such as protective garment, gloves, and masks.
Be certain you observe 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, ask for help, and use proper ventilation. Chemicals and noise can have a cumulative impact on your hearing, so if you are around both at the same time, take extra precautions. Try to nip any potential problem in the bud by having a regular hearing test if you are on medications or if you can’t steer clear of chemicals. The numerous causes of hearing loss are well understood by hearing specialists so set up an appointment for a hearing exam in order to prevent further damage.