You Could Have an Increased Risk of Hearing Loss With These Chemicals

Hazard pictogram of occupational chemical hazards that could cause hearing loss

Most people are aware of the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also lead to hearing loss which can come as a surprise. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, individuals in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help preserve your quality of life.

Your hearing could be harmed 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 people can be exposed to these chemicals in the workplace or at home. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they get into the body. The resulting hearing loss may be temporary or permanent, and the effect is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous to hearing:

  • Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, that includes things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful levels of these chemicals are often produced by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
  • Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
  • Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards 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 in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors may get exposed to these metals often.
  • Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in some industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, consult your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.

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

Taking key precautions is the ideal way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Consult your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Whatever safety equipment that is available to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.

When you are at home, go over all safety labels on products and follow the instructions to the letter. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Take extra precautions if you’re around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, be certain 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.

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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