Most people are aware of the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can come as a surprise. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. Knowing what these harmful chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Your hearing could be damaged by certain chemicals
The ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can travel to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will increase the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can harm your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss on top of the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals may regularly be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can determine if any medications you might be using pose any hazards to your hearing by consulting your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. If you work in these industries, talk to your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you might have, and use all of your safety equipment.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the ideal way to protect your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Ask your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Any safety equipment that is provided to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
When you are at home, go over all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and ask for help with any instructions you can’t understand. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of situation, use extra precautions. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing tests so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to prevent further damage.