Ototoxicants are chemicals that can damage the cochlea or inner ear, resulting in hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, and/or loss of balance.
You can be exposed to ototoxicants by skin absorption, inhalation, or ingestion. Some examples of such substances are:
- Solvents, such as toluene, styrene, ethylbenzene
- Metals, such as lead, mercury, germanium
- Asphyxiants, such as carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke
- Pharmaceuticals, such as quinine, tetracycline, furosemide, carboplatin
Those working in manufacturing, mining, agriculture, utilities or construction industries are more likely to be exposed to ototoxicants in the work environment.
You can prevent ototoxicant-induced hearing loss by:
- Controlling exposure to ototoxicants
- Use a less hazardous chemical
- Use isolation or enclosures
- Eliminating unnecessary tasks that cause ototoxicant exposure
- Use Personal Protective Equipment
- Wear appropriate masks or respiratory protection
- Wear appropriate chemical-protective gloves or hand protection
- Wear aprons or other appropriate clothing
Ototoxicant-induced hearing loss can be easily overlooked, as it generally happens gradually over several years and some hearing loss may not even occur until several years after being exposed to the ototoxicant.
If you work in any of the industries above, or feel you may have trouble hearing, please call our office to schedule a baseline hearing test.