Sometimes the dangers to your ears are clear: a roaring jet engine or loud machinery. easy to persuade people to protect their ears when they know they will be near loud sounds. But what if your hearing could be harmed by an organic substance? After all, just because something is organic, doesn’t that mean it’s good for you? But how is possible that your hearing could be damaged by an organic substance?
An Organic Compound You Don’t Want to Eat
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, there’s a strong possibility that a group of chemicals called organic solvents can damage your hearing even if exposure is brief and minimal. To be clear, the sort of organic label you find on fruit in the grocery store is completely different. In reality, the word “organic” is employed by marketers to make people presume a product is good for them. When food is labeled as organic, it means that particular growing practices are implemented to keep food free of artificial impurities. The word organic, when associated with solvents, is a chemistry term. In the discipline of chemistry, the word organic makes reference to any chemicals and compounds that contain bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon atoms can generate all varieties of distinctive molecules and, consequently, a large number of different useful chemicals. But sometimes they can also be hazardous. Each year, millions of workers are exposed to the risks of hearing loss by handling organic solvents.
Organic Solvents, Where do You Come Across Them?
Some of the following items have organic solvents:
- Cleaning supplies
- Paints and varnishes
- Glues and adhesives
- Degreasing agents
You get it. So, the question quickly becomes, will painting (or even cleaning) your bathroom harm your hearing?
Organic Solvents And The Dangers Associated With Them
The more you’re exposed to these substances, based on current research, the higher the corresponding hazard. So when you clean your home you will most likely be okay. The most potent risk is to individuals with the highest degree of contact, in other words, factory workers who develop or utilize organic solvents on an industrial scale. Industrial solvents, in particular, have been well investigated and definitively show that exposure can trigger ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system). This has been shown both in laboratory experiments involving animals and in experiential surveys involving real people. Exposure to the solvents can have a detrimental impact on the outer hair cells of the ear, resulting in hearing loss in the mid-frequency range. Unfortunately, the ototoxicity of these compounds isn’t well known by business owners. An even smaller number of workers are aware of the hazards. So there are an absence of standardized protocols to safeguard the hearing of those employees. One thing that may really help, for example, would be standardized hearing exams for all workers who deal with organic compounds on a regular basis. These hearing tests would be able to detect the very earliest indications of hearing loss, and workers would be able to react appropriately.
You Can’t Simply Quit Your Job
Most suggestions for safeguarding your hearing from these particular organic compounds include controlling your exposure as well as regular hearing screenings. But if you expect that advice to be practical, you need to be mindful of the hazards first. It’s straight forward when the dangers are well known. No one doubts that loud noises can harm your ears and so precautions to protect your ears from day-to-day sounds of the factory floor seems logical and obvious. But it isn’t so easy to convince employers to take precautions when there is an invisible hazard. Luckily, continuing research is assisting both employers and employees take a safer approach. Some of the best advice would be to wear a mask and work in a well ventilated place. It would also be a practical idea to get your hearing examined by a hearing specialist.