Sometimes the hazards to your hearing are obvious: a loud jet engine beside your ears or the screeching equipment on the factory floor. It’s not hard to persuade people to use ear protection when they recognize that they will be near loud noises. But what if there was an organic substance that was just as harmful for your hearing as excessive noise? Just because something is organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy for you. How can something that’s organic be equally as bad for your hearing as loud noise?
You Might Not Want to Eat This Organic Substance
To clarify, these organic compounds are not something you can pick up at 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, there’s a strong chance that a group of chemicals known as organic solvents can injure your hearing even if exposure is minimal and limited. To be certain, the kind of organic label you see on fruit in the supermarket is entirely different. As a matter of fact, the word “organic” is utilized by marketers to make consumers think a product isn’t harmful for them. The term organic, when pertaining to food indicates that the growers didn’t use certain chemicals. The word organic, when associated with solvents, is a term used in chemistry. In the discipline of chemistry, the term organic makes reference to any compounds and chemicals that consist of bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can produce a significant number of molecules and consequently practical chemicals. But that doesn’t imply they’re not potentially harmful. Every year, millions of workers are exposed to the risks of hearing loss by working with organic solvents.
Where do You Find Organic Solvents?
Some of the following items have organic solvents:
- Cleaning supplies
- Degreasing elements
- Varnishes and paints
- Adhesives and glue
You get the point. So, the question quickly becomes, will painting (or even cleaning) your bathroom damage your hearing?
Organic Solvents And The Dangers Related to Them
The more you’re exposed to these substances, according to current research, the higher the corresponding dangers. So when you clean your house you will most likely be okay. It’s the industrial laborers who are constantly exposed to organic solvents that are at the highest risk. Ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system), has been demonstrated to be linked to exposure to organic substances. This has been demonstrated both in laboratory experiments involving animals and in experiential surveys involving real people. Hearing loss in the mid frequency range can be affected when the little hair cells in the ear are damaged by solvents. The problem is that many companies are unaware of the ototoxicity of these compounds. Even fewer workers are aware of the dangers. So there are a lack of standardized protocols to safeguard the hearing of those workers. All workers who handle solvents could have hearing examinations regularly and that would be really helpful. These workers could get early treatment for hearing loss because it would be discovered in its beginning phases.
You Have to go to Work
Most recommendations for protecting your hearing from these specific organic compounds include regulating your exposure coupled with regular hearing tests. But in order for that recommendation to be successful, you need to be mindful of the risks first. When the risks are in plain sight, it’s not that hard. It’s obvious that you should take safeguards to protect against the noise of the factory floor and any other loud noises. But it isn’t so straight forward to convince employers to take safety measures when there is an invisible hazard. The good news is, ongoing research is helping both employees and employers take a safer approach. Some of the most practical advice would be to wear a mask and work in a well ventilated place. Getting your hearing examined by a hearing expert is also a good idea.