Is the Risk of Hearing Loss in Your Home? Common Chemicals That Could be Ototoxic

by Lindsay Robinson, HIA Program Coordinator

July 20, 2022


Summer is here and many of us are participating in more outdoor activities, such as swimming in the pool, hiking, taking the kids to and from camp, longer walks with the dog, and even leaving our windows open more often during the cooler hours of the day. These activities usually bring in more dust, debris, and dirt  from the outdoors, necessitating more cleaning than usual. As satisfying as a clean house may feel, make sure you are playing it safe when spraying chemicals and doing household upkeep in high-traffic areas.


We all know the danger of ingesting cleaning chemicals or the harmful effects of getting these substances in your eyes, but did you know that several common household chemicals can also be harmful to your hearing if heavy doses are breathed in? Get to know which household chemicals may be ototoxic, or having a toxic effect on our ear or nerve supply when inhaled, absorbed, or ingested:


  • Pesticides: With the nice weather and depending on where you live, bugs could be a big problem and spraying pesticides is necessary. But beware! Some pesticides are mixed with Carbon Disulfide which can be ototoxic with long-term exposure.1 It’s best to read the warning labels on your bottle of pesticide and wear gloves, long pants, long sleeves, and a mask and safety glasses when advised.


  • Plastic, paint, cleaning agents: These chemicals might contain Benzene or Trichloroethylene which have been demonstrated to have an impact on our nervous system and inner ear.2 Especially when mixing exposure to these chemicals and noise, harmful and permanent damage to your hearing may occur. Precautionary measures should be taken when using to these chemicals.


  • Rug cleaners and spot removers: Did someone track in mud or spill their glass of wine on your carpet? A quick cleaning session may be in order! As a caution, some rug cleaners and spot removers also contain Trichloroethylene3, so keep the air in that location circulating and don’t let pets or children near the chemicals as they are at work.



Don’t let these words of caution spoil the summer fun or cause you to avoid a deep, mid-summer home refresh. Just be knowledgeable about the chemicals within your house and take a moment to carefully read the directions and any warnings. If you start to feel a headache, fullness in the ear, blurry vision, or dizziness while using cleaning chemicals, paint, or pesticides, quickly seek out an area away from the chemical to breathe in some fresh air and if necessary, seek medical attention if the symptoms are not alleviated with fresh air or if you experience ringing in the ears or hearing loss.


Find a nearby hearing professional to ask questions or seek help with hearing loss at the find a professional page.

1Fox, N. (2021, September 19). Common chemicals create risk for hearing loss. LHSFNA.
2 Campo P, Morata TC, Hong O. Chemical exposure and hearing loss. Dis Mon. 2013 Apr;59(4):119-38. doi: 10.1016/j.disamonth.2013.01.003. PMID: 23507352; PMCID: PMC4693596.
3 Crofton KM, Zhao X. The ototoxicity of trichloroethylene: extrapolation and relevance of high-concentration, short-duration animal exposure data. Fundam Appl Toxicol. 1997 Jul;38(1):101-6. doi: 10.1006/faat.1997.2327. PMID: 9268609.

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