Sometimes it’s easy to identify dangers to your hearing: a roaring jet engine or loud equipment. easy to persuade people to use ear protection when they recognize that they will be around loud sounds. But what if your hearing could be harmed by an organic substance? After all, if something is organic, doesn’t that necessarily mean it’s healthy for you? How can something that’s organic be equally as bad for your hearing as loud noise?
You Probably Won’t Want to Eat This Organic Compound
To clarify, these organic substances are not something you can pick up in the produce department of your grocery store 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 good chance of harming your ears even with minimal exposure. To be certain, the sort of organic label you find on fruit in the supermarket is completely different. As a matter of fact, the word “organic” is used by marketers to make consumers presume a product isn’t harmful for them. The word organic, when associated with food signifies that the growers didn’t utilize particular chemicals. The word organic, when associated with solvents, is a chemistry term. In the field of chemistry, the term organic describes any chemicals and compounds that consist of bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon atoms can produce all kinds of different molecules and, therefore, a large number of different useful chemicals. But that doesn’t imply they aren’t potentially hazardous. Millions of workers each year work with organic solvents and they’re often exposed to the dangers of hearing loss as they do so.
Where do You Come Across Organic Solvents?
Some of the following items have organic solvents:
- Degreasing chemicals
- Paints and varnishes
- Adhesives and glue
- Cleaning supplies
You get it. So, this is the question, will painting (or even cleaning) your bathroom harm your hearing?
Dangers Associated With Organic Solvents
According to the most recent research out there, the risks related to organic solvents generally increase the more you’re exposed to them. This means that you’ll probably be okay while you clean your house. It’s the industrial laborers who are continuously around organic solvents that are at the highest risk. Industrial solvents, most notably, have been well investigated and definitively reveal that exposure can lead to ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system). This has been demonstrated both in laboratory experiments involving animals and in experiential surveys with actual people. Loss of hearing in the mid frequency range can be impacted when the tiny hair cells of the ear are damaged by solvents. The problem is that many businesses are not aware of the ototoxicity of these compounds. Even fewer workers know about the dangers. So there are insufficient standardized protocols to help protect the hearing of those employees. All workers who deal with solvents could have hearing exams regularly and that would really help. These workers could get early treatment for hearing loss because it would be discovered in its beginning stages.
You Need to go to Work
Regular Hearing assessments and controlling your exposure to these solvents are the most common recommendations. But if you expect that advice to be successful, you have to be mindful of the dangers first. It’s easy when the risks are plain to see. Everyone recognizes that loud noises can injure your hearing and so precautions to protect your hearing from day-to-day sounds of the factory floor are logical and obvious. But it isn’t so easy to persuade employers to take precautions when there is an invisible threat. Fortunately, as researchers raise more alarm bells, employees and employers are moving to make their work environments a little bit safer for everyone. Some of the most practical advice would be to use a mask and work in a well ventilated spot. Having your ears checked by a hearing care specialist is also a practical idea.