Sometimes the hazards to your ears are obvious: loud machines or a roaring jet engine. easy to persuade people to protect their ears when they recognize that they will be near loud sounds. But what if there was an organic compound that was as harmful for your hearing as excessive noise? After all, just because something is organic, doesn’t that necessarily mean it’s healthy for you? But how is possible that your ears could be damaged by an organic substance?
An Organic Substance You Wouldn’t Want to Eat
To clarify, these organic substances are not something you can pick up at the produce department of your supermarket nor would you want to. According to recent (and some not-so-recent) research published by European scholars, there’s a strong possibility that a group of chemicals known as organic solvents can damage your hearing even if exposure is minimal and brief. It’s important to note that, in this case, organic does not refer to the type of label you see on fruit at the grocery store. As a matter of fact, the word “organic” is used by marketers to make consumers think a product is good for them. When food is labeled as organic, it means that particular growing methods are implemented to keep food from having artificial impurities. When we talk about organic solvents, the term organic is related to chemistry. In the discipline of chemistry, the term organic refers to any compounds and chemicals that consist of bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can produce a significant number of molecules and therefore worthwhile chemicals. But at times they can also be harmful. Every year, millions of workers are exposed to the dangers of hearing loss by handling organic solvents.
Organic Solvents, Where do You Find Them?
Some of the following products contain organic solvents:
- Cleaning products
- Adhesives and glue
- Paints and varnishes
- Degreasing elements
You get the idea. So, the question quickly becomes, will painting (or even cleaning) your living room damage your hearing?
Organic Solvents And The Hazards Associated With Them
The more you’re exposed to these substances, according to recent research, the higher the associated hazard. So when you clean your home you will most likely be ok. It’s the industrial laborers who are continuously exposed to organic solvents that have the highest danger. Industrial solvents, especially, have been well investigated and definitively demonstrate that exposure can trigger ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system). Lab tests that utilized animals, in addition to surveys of people, have both revealed this to be true. Hearing loss in the mid frequency range can be affected when the little hair cells of the ear are damaged by solvents. Regretfully, the ototoxicity of these solvents isn’t widely recognized by company owners. Even fewer workers know about the hazards. So those employees don’t have consistent protocols to safeguard them. All workers who handle solvents could get hearing tests 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 Can’t Just Quit Your Job
Most recommendations for safeguarding your hearing from these specific organic substances include controlling your exposure and also regular hearing examinations. But in order for that recommendation to be effective, you have to be informed of the risks first. When the hazards are in plain sight, it’s not that hard. It’s obvious that you should take precautions to protect against the noise of the factory floor and any other loud sounds. But it’s not so straight forward to convince employers to take safety measures when there is an invisible threat. Thankfully, as specialists sound more alarms, employers and employees alike are moving to make their places of work a little bit safer for everyone. In the meantime, it’s a good plan to try to work with these products in a well-ventilated place and to wear masks. Getting your ears tested by a hearing expert is also a good idea.