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Many people are familiar with the common causes of hearing loss but don’t realize the risks that everyday chemicals present to their hearing. While there are several groups of people at risk, those in industries including textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Your quality of life can be improved by knowing what these chemicals are and how to be protected.

Some Chemicals Are Harmful to Your Hearing. Why?

Something that has a toxic impact on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic. At home or in the workplace, people can be exposed to ototoxic chemicals. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, ingest, or inhale them. These chemicals, once they get into the body, will go into the ear, affecting the delicate nerves. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or long-term, and the impact is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.

Five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to your hearing have been recognized by OSHA or the Occupation Safety and Health Administration:

  • Pharmaceuticals – Drugs like diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Any questions about medication that you may be taking should be discussed with your doctor and your hearing care specialist.
  • Solvents – Some industries including 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.
  • Metals and Compounds – Metals including lead and mercury have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. People in the metal fabrication or furniture industries may be exposed to these metals frequently.
  • Nitriles – Things like super glue, latex gloves, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles like acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Although your hearing can be harmed by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the advantage of repelling water.
  • Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the amount of oxygen in the air, and include things like tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide. Dangerous levels of these chemicals can be produced by gas tools, vehicles, stoves and other appliances.

What Should You do if You’re subjected to Ototoxic Chemicals?

The solution to protecting your hearing from chemical exposure is to take precautions. Consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals if you work in the construction, plastics, pesticide spraying, automotive, or fire-fighting industries. Be sure you utilize every safety material your job offers, like protective garment, gloves, and masks.

When you’re at home, read all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. When you are using any chemicals, if you don’t understand the label, get help, and use proper ventilation. Noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing, so if you are around both simultaneously, take extra precautions. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have routine hearing tests so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. Hearing specialists have experience with the various causes of hearing loss and can help you figure out a plan to prevent further damage.

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