Sometimes it’s easy to identify dangers to your ears: a roaring jet engine or loud machinery. It’s not difficult to persuade people to protect their ears when they recognize that they will be near loud noises. But what if your hearing could be damaged by an organic substance? After all, if something is organic, doesn’t that mean it’s good for you? How could something that’s organic be just as bad for your ears as loud noise?
An Organic Substance You Wouldn’t Want to Eat
To clarify, these organic compounds are not something you can get in the produce department of your supermarket and you wouldn’t want to. According to recent (and some not-so-recent) research published by European scholars, chemicals called organic solvents have a strong possibility of damaging your ears even with very little exposure. It’s significant to note that, in this case, organic does not make reference to the type of label you see on fruit in the supermarket. As a matter of fact, the word “organic” is utilized by marketers to make people think a product isn’t harmful for them. When food is classified as organic, it means that particular growing methods are employed to keep food free of artificial contaminants. When we mention organic solvents, the word organic is related to chemistry. Within the field of chemistry, the word organic represents any compounds and chemicals that consist of bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can create a high number of molecules and consequently practical chemicals. But sometimes they can also be hazardous. Millions of workers every year handle organic solvents and they’re regularly exposed to the risks of hearing loss as they do so.
Where do You Find Organic Solvents?
Organic solvents are used in some of the following items:
- Cleaning products
- Degreasing agents
- Paints and varnishes
- Glues and adhesives
You get it. So, this is the question, will painting (or even cleaning) your bathroom harm your hearing?
Hazard Associated With Organic Solvents
Based on the most current research out there, the risks associated with organic solvents tend to increase the more you’re exposed to them. So when you clean your home you will probably be ok. It’s the industrial laborers who are continuously around organic solvents that have the highest danger. Ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system), has been demonstrated to be associated with exposure to organic substances. This has been demonstrated both in laboratory experiments involving animals and in experiential surveys with real people. Subjection to the solvents can have a negative impact on the outer hair cells of the ear, leading to hearing loss in the mid-frequency range. The difficulty is that many companies are not aware of the ototoxicity of these solvents. These risks are known even less by workers. So those workers don’t have standardized protocols to protect them. All workers who handle solvents could have hearing exams on a regular basis and that would be really helpful. These hearing examinations would detect the very earliest indications of hearing loss, and workers could respond accordingly.
You Can’t Just Quit Your Job
Most suggestions for protecting your hearing from these specific organic compounds include controlling your exposure and also regular hearing examinations. But first, you have to be conscious of the dangers before you can follow that advice. It’s not a problem when the risks are plain to see. It’s obvious that you should take safeguards to protect against the noise of the factory floor and any other loud sounds. But when the danger is invisible as it is for the millions of Americans who work with organic solvents, solutions can be more difficult to sell. Thankfully, as specialists sound more alarms, employers and employees alike are moving to make their workplaces a little bit less dangerous for everyone. Some of the best advice would be to use a mask and work in a well ventilated area. Getting your hearing evaluated by a hearing expert is also a smart idea.