There are many commonly known causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that some chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are several groups of people at risk, individuals in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. You can safeguard your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Some chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically affected by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they get into the body. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or long-term, and the impact is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, recognized five types of chemicals that can be hazardous to hearing:
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the quantity of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful levels of these chemicals are frequently produced by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in some industries such as insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can cause hearing loss on top of the damage they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals could frequently be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
The best way to protect your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. Ask your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. You need to utilize every safety material your job supplies, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.
When you are at home, go over all safety materials 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 don’t understand. Take extra precautions if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by having regular screenings if you are using any ototoxic medications or you can’t avoid chemicals. We are experienced in addressing the various causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to avoid further damage.
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