Sometimes it can be easy to identify hazards to your hearing: the roaring jet engine beside your ears or the bellowing equipment on the floor of a factory. When the dangers are logical and intuitive, it’s easy to get people on board with pragmatic solutions (which normally include using earmuffs or earplugs). But what if there was an organic substance that was as harmful for your hearing as excessive noise? Just because something is organic doesn’t always mean it’s good for you. But how is possible that your hearing could be harmed by an organic substance?
You Probably Won’t Want to Eat This Organic Compound
To clarify, these organic substances are not something you can pick up in the produce department of your supermarket nor would you want to. According to recent (and some not-so-recent) research published by European scholars, chemicals called organic solvents have a strong chance of harming your ears even with very little exposure. To be certain, the type of organic label you find on fruit in the grocery store is completely different. In reality, the word “organic” is utilized by marketers to make consumers believe a product is good for them. When food is classified as organic, it means that certain growing practices are employed to keep food from having artificial pollutants. When we talk about organic solvents, the word organic is chemistry-related. Within the field of chemistry, the word organic describes any chemicals and compounds that contain bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can produce a large number of molecules and therefore practical chemicals. But that doesn’t imply they aren’t potentially hazardous. Every year, millions of workers are exposed to the hazards of hearing loss by working with organic solvents.
Organic Solvents, Where do You Find Them?
Organic solvents are used in some of the following items:
- Degreasing chemicals
- Paints and varnishes
- Cleaning supplies
- Glues and adhesives
You get the idea. So, the question quickly becomes, will painting (or even cleaning) your bathroom damage your hearing?
Organic Solvents And The Hazards Associated With Them
The more you’re subjected to these substances, according to current research, the higher the associated risks. This means that you’ll probably be okay while you clean your house. It’s the industrial laborers who are regularly exposed to organic solvents that are at the highest risk. Ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system), has been demonstrated to be associated with subjection to organic compounds. Lab tests that used animals, as well as surveys of people, have both revealed this to be the case. Hearing loss in the mid frequency range can be affected when the tiny hair cells of the ear are damaged by solvents. Regretfully, the ototoxicity of these solvents isn’t well known by business owners. An even smaller number of workers are aware of the dangers. So those employees don’t have standardized protocols to safeguard them. One thing that may really help, for instance, would be standardized hearing exams for all workers who use organic solvents on a consistent basis. These hearing tests would be able to detect the very earliest indications of hearing loss, and workers could react appropriately.
You Can’t Just Quit Your Job
Routine Hearing assessments and limiting your exposure to these solvents are the most frequent recommendations. But first, you need to be mindful of the hazards before you can heed that advice. It’s not a problem when the dangers are well known. Everyone knows that loud noises can harm your hearing and so precautions to protect your ears from day-to-day sounds of the factory floor are logical and obvious. 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 a harder sell. Fortunately, as specialists sound more alarm bells, employees and employers are moving to make their places of work a little bit less dangerous for everyone. Some of the most practical advice would be to use a mask and work in a well ventilated place. Getting your hearing evaluated by a hearing care professional is also a smart idea.