Hazard pictogram of occupational chemical hazards that could cause hearing loss

There are lots of well known causes of hearing loss, but not many people realize the dangers that some chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, people in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Being aware of what these hazardous chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help preserve your quality of life.

Your hearing could be damaged by certain chemicals

The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help us hear. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. These chemicals can make their way to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they enter the body. Noise exposure will increase the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.

Five kinds of chemicals that can damage your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:

  • Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also result in hearing loss. Individuals could frequently be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
  • Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is decreased by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
  • Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also cause hearing loss.
  • Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in some industries such as insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
  • Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards posed by your medications.

What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?

Taking key precautions is the ideal way to protect your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Consult your employer about your level of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Make sure you utilize all safety equipment your job supplies, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.

When you are at home, read all safety materials on products and follow the instructions to the letter. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to understand any of the labels. Use extra safety measures if you’re around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. Try to stay a step ahead of hearing loss by having regular hearing exams if you are using any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We are experienced in dealing with the various causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to prevent further damage.

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References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4693596/

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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