Most people are informed about the known causes of hearing loss but don’t comprehend the dangers that commonplace chemicals present to their hearing. While there are several groups of people in danger, those in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Realizing what these dangerous chemicals are and what safeguards you should take could help protect your quality of life.
Select Chemicals Are Hazardous to Your Hearing. Why?
The term “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears which assist our hearing. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at work or at home. These chemicals can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation, or through the skin. Once these chemicals are in 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 permanent hearing loss.
Five types 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 drugs like antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics. Any concerns about medication that you may be taking should be reviewed with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
- Solvents – Solvents, including styrene and carbon disulfide, are used in some industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about how much exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Metals and Compounds – Metals like lead and mercury have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. These metals are frequently found in the furniture and metal fabrication industries.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the amount of oxygen in the air, and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Dangerous levels of these chemicals can be produced by gas tools, vehicles, stoves and other appliances.
- Nitriles – Things like latex gloves, super glue, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles such as acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be advantageous because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
If You Are Subjected to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Should You do?
Taking precautions is the trick to protecting your hearing. Consult your employer about levels of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the pesticide spraying, construction, plastics, automotive, or fire-fighting fields. If your workplace supplies safety equipment such as protective garments, masks, or gloves, use them.
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 your not sure about what the label means, get 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 added 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 avoid chemicals. Hearing specialists are experienced in dealing with the various causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to avoid further damage.