Pollutants that contaminate the natural or built environment adversely affect the health of living organisms. Although exposure to many of them could be avoided or minimized by careful preventive measures, it is impossible to totally avoid exposure to all pollutants. Ototraumatic agents, such as noise, chemicals, and heavy metals, are pervasive pollutants, mostly produced by human activity, and are critical factors in inducing acquired hearing loss. More importantly, exposure to these pollutants often occurs concurrently and, therefore, the synergistic interactions potentiate auditory dysfunction in susceptible individuals. Epidemiological studies have provided compelling data on the incidence of auditory dysfunction after exposure to a number of ototraumatic agents in the environment, while animal studies have offered crucial insights for understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms. Together, they provide a framework for developing effective interventional approaches for mitigating the adverse impacts of environmental or occupational exposure to ototraumatic agents. This article provides a brief overview of the common pollutants that cause hearing loss.
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