Sometimes it’s easy to discern risks to your ears: the roaring jet engine beside your ears or the screeching equipment on the factory floor. When the dangers are logical and intuitive, it’s easy to convince people to take practical solutions (which usually include using earmuffs or earplugs). But what if your hearing could be harmed by an organic substance? Simply because something is organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy for you. But how is possible that your ears could be harmed by an organic substance?
You Probably Won’t Want to Eat This Organic Substance
To clarify, these organic substances are not something you can pick up in the produce department of your supermarket and you wouldn’t want to. According to recent (and some not-so-recent) research published by European scholars, there’s a good chance that a collection of chemicals called organic solvents can injure your hearing even if exposure is minimal and brief. To be certain, the type of organic label you see on fruit in the supermarket is completely different. As a matter of fact, the word “organic” is utilized by marketers to make people believe a product is good for them. The word organic, when pertaining to food indicates that the growers didn’t use particular chemicals. When we mention organic solvents, the term organic is chemistry-related. In the discipline of chemistry, the word organic refers to any chemicals and compounds that have bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can create a high number of molecules and therefore practical chemicals. But that doesn’t imply they aren’t potentially hazardous. Millions of workers every year handle organic solvents and they’re frequently exposed to the hazards of hearing loss while doing so.
Where do You Find Organic Solvents?
Some of the following items contain organic solvents:
- Adhesives and glue
- Degreasing elements
- Varnishes and paints
- Cleaning products
You get the idea. So, here’s the question, will painting (or even cleaning) your living room damage your hearing?
Dangers Related to Organic Solvents
The more you’re subjected to these substances, based on recent research, the higher the associated hazard. This means that you’ll probably be okay while you clean your bathroom. The most potent risk is to those with the most prolonged contact, in other words, factory workers who produce or utilize organic solvents on an industrial scale. Industrial solvents, in particular, have been well studied and definitively show that exposure can lead to ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system). Lab tests that utilized animals, as well as surveys of people, have both revealed this to be true. Hearing loss in the mid frequency range can be affected when the tiny hair cells in the ear are damaged by solvents. Regretfully, the ototoxicity of these solvents isn’t well recognized by business owners. Even fewer workers are aware of the risks. So those employees don’t have standardized protocols to protect them. All workers who deal with solvents could have hearing screenings on a regular basis and that would really help. These workers would be able to get early treatment for hearing loss because it would be identified in its beginning phases.
You Can’t Simply Quit Your Job
Routine Hearing assessments and limiting your exposure to these compounds are the most frequent recommendations. But first, you need to be aware of the hazards before you can follow that advice. It’s straight forward when the hazards are well known. Everyone recognizes that loud noises can damage your ears and so precautions to safeguard your ears from day-to-day sounds of the factory floor are obvious and logical. But it’s not so straight forward to persuade employers to take precautions when there is an invisible threat. Luckily, ongoing research is assisting both employees and employers take a safer path. Some of the best advice would be to use a mask and work in a well ventilated spot. Getting your hearing tested by a hearing expert is also a practical idea.