Hazard pictogram of occupational chemical hazards that could cause hearing loss

There are lots of commonly known causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that certain chemicals present to their hearing. While there are numerous 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.

Your hearing could be harmed by some chemicals

The ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Specific 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. These chemicals can travel to the delicate nerves of the ears once they enter the body. The resulting hearing loss may be temporary or permanent, and the impact is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.

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

  • Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can determine if any medications you might be taking present any hazards to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
  • Solvents – Certain industries including plastics and insulation use solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Wear all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
  • Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the quantity 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.
  • Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles such as acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also result in hearing loss.
  • Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can result in hearing loss on top of the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals frequently.

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

The best way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make sure you use all safety equipment your job provides, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.

When you are at home, read all safety labels on products and follow the instructions to the letter. If you can, keep away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and request help with any instructions you can’t understand. Take extra precautions if you’re around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing exams so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to prevent any 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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