At times the dangers to your ears are clear: a roaring jet engine or loud machinery. easy to persuade people to use ear protection when they know they will be near loud noises. But what if your ears could be harmed by an organic substance? Just because something is organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you. How could something that’s organic be equally as bad for your ears as loud noise?
An Organic Compound You Don’t Want to Eat
To clarify, these organic substances are not something you can pick up at the produce department of your grocery store nor would you want to. According to recent (and some not-so-recent) research published by European scholars, there’s a good chance that a group of chemicals called organic solvents can injure your hearing even if exposure is minimal and limited. It’s important to note that, in this situation, organic does not refer to the sort of label you find on fruit at the supermarket. In reality, the word “organic” is employed by marketers to make people believe a product isn’t harmful for them. The word organic, when related to food means that the growers didn’t employ certain chemicals. When we mention organic solvents, the word organic is related to chemistry. Within the field of chemistry, the word organic describes any chemicals and compounds that have bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can create a large number of molecules and therefore practical chemicals. But that doesn’t imply they’re not potentially hazardous. Each year, millions of workers are exposed to the dangers of hearing loss by working with organic solvents.
Organic Solvents, Where do You Find Them?
Organic solvents are found in some of the following products:
- Varnishes and paints
- Degreasing elements
- Cleaning products
- Adhesives and glue
You get it. So, the question suddenly becomes, will your hearing be damaged by painting or even cleaning?
Organic Solvents And The Dangers Related to Them
According to the most current research available, the hazards related to organic solvents generally increase the more you’re exposed to them. So when you clean your home you will most likely be fine. It’s the industrial workers who are continuously around organic solvents that are at the highest danger. Industrial solvents, most notably, have been well researched and definitively demonstrate that exposure can lead to ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system). This has been demonstrated both in lab experiments using animals and in experiential surveys involving actual people. Loss of hearing in the mid frequency range can be impacted when the little hair cells of the ear are damaged by solvents. The problem is that many companies are not aware of the ototoxicity of these solvents. These dangers are known even less by workers. So those workers don’t have consistent protocols to safeguard them. One thing that could really help, for instance, would be standardized hearing tests for all workers who use organic solvents on a regular basis. These hearing tests would detect the very earliest indications of hearing loss, and workers would be able to react appropriately.
You Need to go to Work
Routine Hearing assessments and controlling your exposure to these solvents are the most frequent recommendations. But first, you have to be conscious of the dangers before you can heed that advice. When the risks are obvious, it’s not that hard. No one doubts that loud noises can injure your hearing and so taking steps to protect your ears from the daily sound of the factory floor seems logical and obvious. But it isn’t so easy to convince employers to take safety measures when there is an invisible threat. Thankfully, as researchers raise more alarm bells, employees and employers are moving to make their work environments a little bit safer for everyone. For now, it’s a good idea to only work with these products in a well-ventilated place and to wear masks. Getting your ears checked by a hearing expert is also a good idea.