Sometimes it’s easy to recognize dangers to your ears: a loud jet engine beside your ears or the bellowing equipment on the factory floor. easy to convince people to use ear protection when they recognize that they will be near loud sounds. But what if there was an organic substance that was as bad for your ears as too much noise? After all, just because something is organic, doesn’t that necessarily mean it’s good for you? But how is possible that your hearing could be damaged by an organic substance?
You May Not Want to Eat This Organic Substance
To clarify, these organic substances are not something you can pick up at the produce section 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 collection of chemicals called organic solvents can injure your hearing even if exposure is minimal and limited. It’s significant to note that, in this case, organic does not make reference to the type of label you see on fruit in the grocery store. In reality, the word “organic” is employed by marketers to make consumers believe a product is good for them. When food is designated as organic, it means that certain growing methods are employed to keep food free of artificial contaminants. The term organic, when associated with solvents, is a chemistry term. Within the field of chemistry, the word organic makes reference to any compounds and chemicals that contain bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon atoms can create all varieties of different molecules and, consequently, a large number of different useful chemicals. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t potentially hazardous. Millions of workers every year work with organic solvents and they’re often exposed to the hazards of hearing loss while doing so.
Organic Solvents, Where do You Find Them?
Some of the following products contain organic solvents:
- Degreasing elements
- Paints and varnishes
- Cleaning supplies
- Glues and adhesives
You get it. So, the question suddenly becomes, will your hearing be damaged by cleaning or painting?
Organic Solvents And The Dangers Related to Them
According to the most recent research out there, the dangers associated with organic solvents generally increase the more you’re exposed to them. So when you clean your house you will probably be fine. The most potent risk is to individuals with the most prolonged contact, in other words, factory workers who develop or use organic solvents on a commercial scale. Ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system), has been shown to be linked to exposure to organic compounds. 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. Unfortunately, the ototoxicity of these solvents isn’t well known by business owners. These hazards are even less recognized by workers. So there are insufficient standardized protocols to help protect the hearing of those workers. All workers who handle solvents could get hearing screenings on a regular basis and that would be really helpful. These hearing screenings would be able to detect the very earliest indications of hearing loss, and workers could react accordingly.
You Can’t Just Quit Your Job
Most recommendations for protecting your ears from these specific organic substances include controlling your exposure along with routine hearing examinations. But first, you have to be aware of the hazards before you can heed that advice. When the dangers 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 noises. But when the threat is not visible as is the case for the millions of Us citizens who work with organic solvents, solutions can be more difficult to sell. The good news is, continuing research is helping both employees and employers take a safer path. For the time being, it’s a good idea to try to use these products in a well-ventilated place and to wear masks. It would also be a good plan to have your ears looked at by a hearing specialist.