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Exposure to chemicals can cause ear damage to workers

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Work Injuries

The level of proneness to harmful substances among workers depends on the specific products they handle. However, certain toxic chemicals can worsen the risk of hearing loss. If you work among these chemicals, ototoxicant chemicals are among your biggest worries.

Types of ototoxicant chemicals

Ototoxicant chemicals are substances that can cause damage to the inner ear. These chemicals harm the hair cells, nerve fibers or cochlea responsible for hearing and balance. Exposure to small amounts may not be immediately harmful. However, long-term exposure can potentially lead to ear damage and hearing loss. Some examples of these chemicals commonly found in paints, wires, batteries, engines and welding rods include:

  • Toluene
  • Xylene
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Acrylonitrile
  • Lead
  • Organic tin compounds

Unfortunately, you encounter these materials regularly on construction sites. Additionally, the danger of inhaling carbon monoxide increases because it’s a colorless and odorless gas. You can inhale this without even realizing it.

Toxic chemicals cause hearing loss

Ototoxicant chemicals can enter the inner ear through the bloodstream. However, workers can expose themselves to these chemicals in various ways, including:

  • Inhaling them
  • Consuming contaminated food or drinks
  • Touching things that cause the absorption of substances through the skin

In addition to constant exposure to toxic chemicals, construction workers are also exposed to noise hazards due to the use of heavy machinery in their line of work. As a result, a combination of loud noise and ototoxic chemicals can cause more damage to the ears compared to exposure to noise or chemicals alone.

Solving this issue

To address this problem, your workplace should improve the ventilation system. This improvement can help mitigate the issue at hand. They may also replace ototoxicant chemicals with less toxic alternatives or mandate the use of protective equipment when necessary. Such measures help reduce the risk of exposure to harmful effects caused by ototoxicant chemicals.

Working on construction sites means you should take safety personally. That said, working toward avoiding potential harm from these chemicals is crucial to your ear and overall health.