Exposure to some chemicals can result in hearing loss. These chemicals are known as Ototoxic substances. Hearing loss is more likely to occur if a worker is exposed to both noise and ototoxic substances than if exposure is just to noise or ototoxic substances alone. There are three major classes of ototoxic substances: solvents, heavy metals and asphyxiants. Work activities that commonly combine noise and ototoxic substances include:
• boat building
• furniture making
• fuelling vehicles and aircraft
• manufacturing, particularly of metal, leather and petroleum products
• weapons firing
Some medications have also been identified as ototoxic substances. These include some anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic, anti-malarial, anti-rheumatic and antibiotic drugs. Quinine and salicylic acids (such as aspirin) are also considered to be ototoxic substances. Some of these can be absorbed through the skin and are considered particularly hazardous. Control measures such as substitution, isolation and local ventilation should be implemented to eliminate or reduce chemical exposures. Personal protective equipment should be used to prevent skin and respiratory absorption when other controls are insufficient.
If you work with Ototoxic substances with or without exposure to noise please do get your hearing checked… Call ‘My Audiologist’ on 07 3446 5845 for a comprehensive audiological assessment.