There are many commonly known causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that certain chemicals present to their hearing. There is an greater exposure hazard for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Your quality of life can be improved by realizing what these chemicals are and how to be protected.

Why Are Select Chemicals Harmful to Your Hearing?

The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic impact on either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that assist our hearing. Particular chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at work or at home. They might absorb these chemicals through the skin, ingest, or inhale them. These chemicals, once they get into the body, will travel into the ear, affecting the sensitive nerves. The impact is even worse when it comes with high levels of noise exposure, resulting in temporary or permanent loss of hearing.

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

  • Pharmaceuticals – Drugs such as diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Consult your primary doctor and your hearing health specialist about any risks presented by your medications.
  • Asphyxiants – Things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke contain asphyxiants which reduce the amount of oxygen in the air. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances might produce unsafe levels of these chemicals.
  • Nitriles – Things like super glue, latex gloves, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Even though your hearing can be harmed by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the advantage of repelling water.
  • Metals and Compounds – Metals like lead and mercury have other negative effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. These metals are frequently found in the metal fabrication and furniture industries.
  • Solvents – Certain industries such as plastics and insulation use solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Make sure that if you work in one of these industries, you use all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer about your level of exposure.

If You Are Subjected to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Can You do?

The solution to safeguarding your hearing from chemical exposure is to take precautions. If you work in a sector including automotive, fire-fighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make sure you use every safety material your job provides, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.

Make sure you observe all of the instructions on the labels of your medications before you use them. When you are using any chemicals, if your not sure about what the label means, get help, and use correct ventilation. Take extra precautions if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. Try to get ahead of any potential problems by having a regular hearing exam if you are on medications or if you can’t steer clear of chemicals. The various causes of hearing loss are well known to hearing specialists so make an appointment for a hearing test in order to avoid further damage.

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