HEARING TIPS

Hazard pictogram of occupational chemical hazards that could cause hearing loss

Most people are aware of 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 preserve your quality of life.

Certain chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing

The ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” in the workplace or at home. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can travel to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will multiply the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.

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

  • Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in some industries such as insulation and plastics. Wear all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
  • Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
  • Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can determine if any medications you may be taking present any hazards to your hearing by consulting your physician and your hearing specialist.
  • Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other negative effects on the body, but they can also result in hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries might get exposed to these metals often.
  • Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful levels of these chemicals are often put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.

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

The best way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. Consult your employer about your level of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Any 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. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to decipher 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. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing tests so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to avoid 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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