Hazard pictogram of occupational chemical hazards that could cause hearing loss

There are lots of commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people recognize the dangers that certain chemicals present to their hearing. At risk groups include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. Knowing what these harmful 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 with hearing. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can travel to the delicate nerves of the ears once they get into the body. Noise exposure will increase the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.

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

  • Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in some industries such as insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you might have, and use all of your safety equipment.
  • 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 cause hearing loss.
  • Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are often produced by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
  • Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
  • Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. Individuals could frequently be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.

If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?

The ideal 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, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Whatever safety equipment that is supplied to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.

Read and adhere to all of the safety guidelines listed on product labels. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper 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 impact 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 can use our experience to help you develop a plan to prevent any further damage.

References

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

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