Most people are aware of the common causes of hearing loss but don’t realize the risks that everyday chemicals pose to their hearing. There is an increased 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.
Certain Chemicals Are Hazardous to Your Hearing. Why?
The term “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic impact on either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears which assist our hearing. At work or at home, individuals can come in contact with ototoxic chemicals. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can impact the sensitive nerves and other parts of the ear. 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 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 questions about medication that you may be taking should be discussed with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
- Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be triggered by metals like mercury and lead which also have other adverse health effects. These metals are typically found in the furniture and metal fabrication industries.
- Nitriles – Nitriles including 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used to make products such as super glue, automotive rubber and seals, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be practical because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
- Solvents – Some industries such as insulation and plastics use solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Make sure that if you work in one of these industries, you wear all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer about how much you are exposed.
- 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 put out unsafe levels of these chemicals.
What Should You do if You’re subjected to Ototoxic Chemicals?
Taking precautions is the trick to safeguarding your hearing. Consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals if you work in the pesticide spraying, construction, plastics, automotive, or fire-fighting industries. Be sure you utilize every safety material your job provides, such as protective garment, gloves, and masks.
When you are home, read all safety labels on products and follow the instructions 100 percent. When you are using any chemicals, if your not sure about what the label means, ask for help, and use proper ventilation. Chemicals and noise can have a cumulative impact on your hearing, so if you are around both simultaneously, take added precautions. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing tests so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. The numerous causes of hearing loss are well known to hearing specialists so set up an appointment for a hearing exam in order to stop further damage.