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There are many commonly known causes of hearing loss, but not too many people realize the hazards that some chemicals present to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people in danger, those in industries including textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. Your quality of life can be improved by recognizing 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 work or at home, people can be exposed to ototoxic chemicals. They might absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can travel to the sensitive nerves and other parts of the ear. The resultant hearing loss could be temporary or long-term, and the effect is 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 harmful to your hearing:

  • Pharmaceuticals – Drugs including diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics can cause damage to your hearing. Consult your regular doctor and your hearing health specialist about any risks presented by your medications.
  • Nitriles – Things like super glue, latex gloves, and rubber automotive seals contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and 3-Butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be practical because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
  • Asphyxiants – Things like tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide contain asphyxiants which lower the level of oxygen in the air. Unsafe levels of these chemicals can be produced by vehicles, gas tools, stoves and other appliances.
  • Solvents – Certain industries such as plastics and insulation use solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Be certain that if you work in one of these industries, you wear all of your safety equipment and consult your workplace safety officer about how much you are exposed.
  • Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be caused by metals like mercury and lead which also have other negative health effects. These metals are commonly found in the metal fabrication and furniture industries.

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

Taking precautions is the trick to protecting your hearing. If you work in an industry such as plastics, automotive, fire-fighting, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Be sure you use every safety material your job supplies, including 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 your not sure about what the label means, get help, and use correct ventilation. Chemicals and noise can have a cumulative effect on your hearing, so if you are around both at the same time, take extra precautions. Try to get ahead of any potential problems by having a routine 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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