Sometimes it can be easy to identify risks to your hearing: a loud jet engine next to your ears or the screeching machines on the floor of a factory. easy to persuade people to use ear protection when they recognize that they will be near loud noises. But what if there was an organic compound that was just as harmful for your ears as too much noise? Just because something is organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy for you. But how is possible that your hearing could be damaged by an organic substance?
You Might Not Want to Eat This Organic Compound
To clarify, these organic substances are not something you can get at the produce section of your grocery store and you wouldn’t want to. According to recent (and some not-so-recent) research published by European scholars, chemicals known as organic solvents have a good possibility of harming your hearing even with minimal exposure. It’s significant to note that, in this situation, organic does not mean the kind of label you find on fruit in the supermarket. As a matter of fact, the word “organic” is used by marketers to make consumers think a product isn’t harmful for them. When food is designated as organic, it means that specific growing methods are implemented to keep food from having artificial pollutants. When we talk about organic solvents, the term organic is related to chemistry. Within the discipline of chemistry, the term organic makes reference to any chemicals and compounds that contain bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon atoms can generate all kinds of distinctive molecules and, therefore, a wide range of different convenient chemicals. But that doesn’t imply they aren’t potentially dangerous. Each year, millions of workers are exposed to the dangers of hearing loss by working with organic solvents.
Where do You Find Organic Solvents?
Some of the following items have organic solvents:
- Cleaning supplies
- Paints and varnishes
- Degreasing elements
- Adhesives and glue
You get it. So, the question suddenly becomes, will painting (or even cleaning) your bathroom damage your hearing?
Organic Solvents And The Dangers Related to Them
According to the most recent research out there, the hazards associated with organic solvents generally increase the more you’re subjected to them. This means that you’ll most likely be fine while you clean your kitchen. It’s the industrial workers who are regularly exposed to organic solvents that have the highest risk. 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 using animals and in experiential surveys with real people. Subjection to the solvents can have a negative impact on the outer hair cells of the ear, causing hearing loss in the mid-frequency range. Regretfully, the ototoxicity of these compounds isn’t well known by company owners. Even fewer workers know about the risks. So there are insufficient standardized protocols to help protect the hearing of those employees. One thing that could really help, for example, would be standardized hearing examinations for all workers who use organic compounds on a regular basis. These workers would be able to 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 ears from these specific organic compounds include controlling your exposure as well as regular hearing screenings. But in order for that advice to be successful, you have to be informed of the risks first. It’s not a problem when the risks are well known. No one doubts that loud noises can injure your ears and so taking steps to safeguard your hearing from day-to-day sounds of the factory floor seems logical and obvious. But it’s not so easy to persuade employers to take precautions when there is an invisible threat. Thankfully, as specialists raise more alarm bells, employees and employers are moving to make their places of work a little bit safer for everyone. For now, it’s a good idea to try to work with these products in a well-ventilated area and to always use a mask. It would also be a good idea to have your hearing checked out by a hearing specialist.