At times the hazards to your ears are clear: a roaring jet engine or loud machines. When the hazards are intuitive and logical, it’s easy to get people on board with pragmatic solutions (which normally include wearing earplugs or earmuffs). But what if there was an organic substance that was as bad for your hearing as too much noise? Just because something is organic doesn’t always mean it’s healthy for you. But how is possible that your hearing could be harmed by an organic substance?
An Organic Compound You Wouldn’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, chemicals called organic solvents have a good chance of injuring your hearing even with minimal exposure. To be certain, the sort of organic label you find on fruit in the grocery store is completely different. Actually, marketers use the positive associations we have with the word “organic” to get us to buy products with the suggestion it’s good for you (or at the very least not bad for you). When food is labeled as organic, it means that particular growing methods are employed to keep food from having artificial impurities. When we talk about organic solvents, the term organic is related to chemistry. Within the field 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 different molecules and, therefore, a wide range of different convenient chemicals. But that doesn’t imply they aren’t potentially hazardous. Millions of workers every year work with organic solvents and they’re regularly 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:
- Glues and adhesives
- Paints and varnishes
- Degreasing elements
- Cleaning products
You get the idea. So, here’s the question, will painting (or even cleaning) your bathroom damage your hearing?
Organic Solvents And The Hazards Related to Them
The more you’re subjected to these substances, based on current research, the higher the corresponding dangers. So when you clean your home you will most likely be ok. It’s the industrial workers who are constantly exposed to organic solvents that have the highest danger. Ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system), has been demonstrated to be connected to subjection to organic compounds. This has been demonstrated both in laboratory experiments involving animals and in experiential surveys involving real people. Exposure to the solvents can have a negative effect on the outer hair cells of the ear, causing hearing loss in the mid-frequency range. Regretfully, the ototoxicity of these compounds isn’t widely recognized by business owners. An even smaller number of workers know about the risks. So there are an absence of standardized protocols to safeguard the hearing of those employees. All workers who handle solvents could have hearing examinations on a regular basis and that would really help. These hearing tests would detect the very earliest signs of hearing loss, and workers could react appropriately.
You Can’t Just Quit Your Job
Most suggestions for protecting your ears from these specific organic compounds include controlling your exposure as well as regular hearing tests. But if you expect that advice to be effective, you have to be aware of the dangers first. It’s straight forward when the risks are well known. Everyone knows that loud noises can harm your hearing and so precautions to safeguard your hearing from the daily sound of the factory floor seems logical and obvious. But it’s not so easy to persuade employers to take safety measures when there is an invisible threat. Thankfully, as specialists sound more alarm bells, employees and employers are moving to make their places of work a little bit safer for everyone. 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 ears looked at by a hearing specialist.