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 know about the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can be surprising. At risk groups include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. Being aware of what these hazardous chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help protect your quality of life.

Your hearing could be damaged by some chemicals

The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help us hear. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and people 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 delicate nerves of the ears once they get into the body. The resulting hearing loss might 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:

  • Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
  • Solvents – Certain industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these industries, talk to your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
  • Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss in addition to the harm they can do to other parts of the body. People may regularly be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
  • Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can figure out if any medications you may be using pose any dangers to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
  • Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful levels of these chemicals.

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

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

Read and follow all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t understand any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of situation, use extra precautions. Try to keep 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 addressing the various causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to avoid 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.