Sometimes the dangers to your ears are obvious: a loud jet engine next to your ears or the bellowing machines on the floor of a factory. easy to convince people to protect their ears when they know they will be near loud noises. But what if there was an organic compound that was as bad for your ears as too much noise? After all, just because something is organic, doesn’t that mean it’s healthy for you? But how is possible that your ears could be harmed by an organic substance?
An Organic Substance You Wouldn’t Want to Eat
To clarify, these organic compounds are not something you can pick up in the produce department 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 chance of harming your ears even with minimal exposure. It’s significant to note that, in this case, organic doesn’t refer to the kind of label you find on fruit at the supermarket. Actually, marketers utilize the positive associations we have with the word “organic” to sell us products with the implication that it’s actually good for you (or at the very least not bad for you). When food is labeled as organic, it means that specific growing practices are used to keep food from having artificial impurities. The word organic, when associated with solvents, is a chemistry term. Within the discipline of chemistry, the term organic describes any chemicals and compounds that consist of bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can create a large number of molecules and consequently practical chemicals. But sometimes they can also be harmful. Millions of workers each year work with organic solvents and they’re often exposed to the dangers of hearing loss as they do so.
Where do You Find Organic Solvents?
Organic solvents are used in some of the following items:
- Degreasing elements
- Cleaning supplies
- Adhesives and glue
- Varnishes and paints
You get the point. So, this is the question, will your hearing be damaged by cleaning or painting?
Organic Solvents And The Hazards Associated With Them
Based on the most recent research out there, the risks related to organic solvents tend to increase the more you’re exposed to them. This means that you’ll most likely be okay while you clean your house. The most potent risk is to those with the most prolonged contact, in other words, factory workers who produce or make use of organic solvents on a commercial scale. Industrial solvents, especially, have been well studied and definitively demonstrate that exposure can lead to ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system). Lab tests that utilized animals, along with surveys of people, have both shown this to be true. Hearing loss in the mid frequency range can be affected when the tiny hair cells of the ear are damaged by solvents. The difficulty is that a lot of businesses are don’t know about the ototoxicity of these compounds. These risks are even less recognized by workers. So there are insufficient standardized protocols to safeguard the hearing of those workers. One thing that may really help, for example, would be standardized hearing tests for all workers who deal with organic compounds on a regular basis. These workers could get early treatment for hearing loss because it would be detected in its beginning phases.
You Can’t Simply Quit Your Job
Regular Hearing assessments and limiting your exposure to these compounds are the most common suggestions. But if you expect that advice to be practical, you need to be informed of the risks first. It’s straight forward when the hazards are well known. It’s obvious that you should take safeguards against the noise of the factory floor and any other loud noises. But when the danger is not visible as it is for the millions of Americans who work with organic solvents, solutions can be a harder sell. Luckily, continuing research is assisting both employers and employees take a safer approach. For the time being, it’s a good plan to only work with these products in a well-ventilated place and to always use a mask. It would also be a practical plan to get your hearing checked by a hearing care professional.