At times the hazards to your ears are obvious: a loud jet engine next to your ears or the screeching machinery on the floor of a factory. easy to convince people to use ear protection when they know they will be near loud sounds. But what if there was an organic substance that was just as bad for your ears as too much noise? After all, if something is organic, doesn’t that necessarily mean it’s healthy for you? But how is possible that your hearing could be harmed by an organic substance?
You Probably Won’t Want to Eat This Organic Compound
To be clear, we’re not talking about organic things like produce or other food products. According to recent (and some not-so-recent) research published by European scholars, chemicals known as organic solvents have a good possibility of harming your ears even with very little exposure. To be clear, the kind of organic label you find on fruit in the supermarket is completely different. Actually, marketers use the positive associations we have with the word “organic” to sell us products with the suggestion it’s actually good for you (or at least not bad for you). When food is classified as organic, it means that particular growing practices are used to keep food free of artificial contaminants. When we mention organic solvents, the term organic is related to chemistry. Within the discipline of chemistry, the word organic describes any compounds and chemicals that have bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon atoms can produce all kinds of different molecules and, therefore, a wide variety of different useful chemicals. But at times they can also be unsafe. Millions of workers every year handle organic solvents and they’re frequently exposed to the risks of hearing loss as they do so.
Where do You Find Organic Solvents?
Some of the following items have organic solvents:
- Paints and varnishes
- Cleaning supplies
- Adhesives and glue
- Degreasing chemicals
You get the idea. So, here’s the question, will your hearing be damaged by cleaning or painting?
Organic Solvents And The Risks Associated With Them
According to the most current research out there, the hazards related to organic solvents generally increase the more you’re exposed to them. So when you clean your home you will most likely be okay. It’s the industrial laborers who are regularly exposed to 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 shown both in lab experiments using animals and in experiential surveys with actual people. Subjection to the solvents can have a detrimental impact on the outer hair cells of the ear, leading to hearing loss in the mid-frequency range. Unfortunately, the ototoxicity of these compounds isn’t well known by business owners. These hazards are even less recognized by workers. So those workers don’t have standardized protocols to safeguard them. All workers who deal with solvents could have hearing tests on a regular basis and that would be really helpful. These workers would be able to get early treatment for hearing loss because it would be detected in its beginning stages.
You Can’t Simply Quit Your Job
Regular Hearing assessments and controlling your exposure to these solvents are the most frequent recommendations. But first, you have to be aware of the risks before you can follow that advice. When the hazards are in plain sight, it’s not that hard. It’s obvious that you have to take safeguards to protect against the noise of the factory floor and any other loud noises. But it isn’t so straight forward to persuade employers to take safety measures when there is an invisible threat. Fortunately, as researchers raise more alarms, employers and employees alike are beginning to make their workplaces a little bit less dangerous for everyone. For now, it’s a smart plan to try to work with these products in a well-ventilated place and to always wear a mask. Getting your ears examined by a hearing care specialist is also a practical idea.