Chemicals And Hearing Loss

Chemicals And Hearing Loss

Chemicals that cause hearing loss are called OTOTOXIC substances. Hear how to protect workers from these common industrial chemicals.

Loud sounds in the work environment aren’t the only culprit in hearing damage. In this podcast, Dan Clark tackles ototoxic substances, which can march to your inner ear and give it a smack-down.

Hear Dan describe the chemicals and metals, and how workers can stay safe around them.

Find a link to The National Institute of Safety and Health’s information on ototoxins in the transcript of this podcast.


intro music and effects

Dan Clark: Loud noises aren’t the only things in the workplace that can damage hearing. So can chemicals! Let’s protect your ears.

Hello I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10% off your entire order at with coupon code SAFETYBRIEF (no spaces!).

What are the chemicals that could hurt your hearing? They are OTOTOXIC substances.

Chemicals_And_Hearing_Loss-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x190OTO = EAR.


They injure the cochlea and/or the nerves in the ear, and that can lead to permanent hearing loss. Ototoxins can get to the ear via air, but—get this—also through the body by being inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

COMMON OTOTOXIC SUBSTANCES – Some are household names, others are not. They include:

• Metals – lead, tin and mercury.

• Asphyxiants – such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

• Solvents – including toluene, used as a coating for papers and in the production of dyes and explosives. Styrene, which is used in the making of plastic, glass and rubber.

INDUSTRIES IMPACTED – Construction, painting, printing, metal products, mining, furniture making and more.

Those workplaces which have high noise levels and oxotoxins are especially dangerous. It’s a one-two punch according NIOSH.


• Post, and have them obey, all safety labels related to PPE.
– Gloves are especially important when handling ototoxins.
– If loud noises are in the environment, obviously wear hearing protection.

• Consultant GHS labels and safety data sheets for chemicals if you’re not sure about their hazards.

• Consider providing—and participating in—annual hearing exams.

• Limit the noise level in the workplace with engineering controls.

• Pay attention to research in this area. Research is ongoing and more information may occasionally be coming out about protecting people.

That’s all for this episode on Chemicals And Hearing Loss. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10% off your entire order at with coupon code SAFETYBRIEF (no spaces!).


Cochlea image © 2005 Chittka and Brockmann; derivitive © 2009 Michal Komorniczak (Poland).

sounds provided by and

Similar Posts: