At times the dangers to your ears are obvious: the roaring jet engine next to your ears or the screeching machinery on the factory floor. It’s not hard to persuade people to protect their ears when they know they will be around loud noises. But what if there was an organic compound that was just as harmful for your ears as too much noise? After all, if something is organic, doesn’t that mean it’s good 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 Compound
To clarify, these organic substances are not something you can pick up in the produce section 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 possibility that a collection of chemicals called organic solvents can injure your hearing even if exposure is minimal and brief. It’s important to note that, in this case, organic does not make reference to the sort of label you see on fruit at the supermarket. Actually, marketers make use of the positive associations we have with the word “organic” to get us to buy products with the implication that it’s actually good for you (or at least not bad for you). The term organic, when associated with food signifies that the growers didn’t utilize certain chemicals. The term organic, when associated with solvents, is a term used in chemistry. In the field of chemistry, the term organic describes any chemicals and compounds that have bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can produce a high number of molecules and therefore worthwhile chemicals. But at times they can also be harmful. Millions of workers every year handle organic solvents and they’re often exposed to the dangers of hearing loss while doing so.
Organic Solvents, Where do You Come Across Them?
Some of the following items have organic solvents:
- Cleaning supplies
- Glues and adhesives
- Degreasing agents
- Paints and varnishes
You get the point. So, this is the question, will your hearing be harmed by painting or even cleaning?
Organic Solvents And The Dangers Associated With Them
The more you’re exposed to these substances, based on recent research, the higher the associated dangers. So when you clean your home you will probably be okay. It’s the industrial workers who are continuously around organic solvents that have the highest danger. Ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system), has been shown to be linked to exposure to organic substances. Lab tests that utilized animals, along with surveys of people, have both demonstrated this to be true. Hearing loss in the mid frequency range can be affected when the little hair cells of the ear are damaged by solvents. Unfortunately, the ototoxicity of these solvents isn’t widely recognized by company owners. Even fewer workers are aware of the dangers. So those employees don’t have consistent protocols to protect them. All workers who handle solvents could have hearing screenings on a regular basis and that would really help. These hearing screenings would be able to detect the very earliest indications of hearing loss, and workers would be able to react accordingly.
You Can’t Simply Quit Your Job
Most guidelines for safeguarding your ears from these specific organic compounds include controlling your exposure as well as regular hearing examinations. But first, you need to be mindful of the dangers before you can follow that advice. It’s straight forward when the hazards are plain to see. It’s obvious that you should take precautions against the noise of the factory floor and any other loud noises. But when the threat is not visible as is the case for the millions of Americans who work with organic solvents, solutions can be a harder sell. Fortunately, as specialists sound more alarm bells, employees and employers are beginning to make their workplaces a little bit less dangerous for everyone. In the meantime, it’s a good strategy to try to work with these products in a well-ventilated area and to wear masks. It would also be a good plan to get your ears checked by a hearing specialist.