Sometimes it’s easy to discern hazards to your ears: loud equipment or a roaring jet engine. When the risks are intuitive and logical, it’s easy to get people on board with practical solutions (which normally include wearing earplugs or earmuffs). But what if there was an organic compound that was as bad for your hearing as too much noise? 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?
You May Not Want to Eat This Organic Compound
To be clear, we’re not talking about organic things like produce or other food products. According to recent (and some not-so-recent) research published by European scholars, there’s a good possibility that a group of chemicals called organic solvents can damage your hearing even if exposure is limited and minimal. It’s worthwhile 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 utilized by marketers to make people presume a product isn’t harmful for them. When food is labeled as organic, it means that certain growing methods are implemented to keep food from having artificial contaminants. When we talk about organic solvents, the term organic is related to chemistry. Within the discipline of chemistry, the term organic represents any compounds and chemicals that contain bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon atoms can produce all kinds of different molecules and, consequently, a wide range of different convenient chemicals. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t potentially harmful. Millions of workers every year work with organic solvents and they’re regularly exposed to the dangers of hearing loss as they do so.
Where do You Find Organic Solvents?
Some of the following items contain organic solvents:
- Cleaning supplies
- Varnishes and paints
- Degreasing chemicals
- Glues and adhesives
You get the idea. So, the question quickly becomes, will painting (or even cleaning) your living room damage your hearing?
Organic Solvents And The Hazards Associated With Them
According to the most recent research available, the risks related to organic solvents tend to increase the more you’re exposed to them. This means that you’ll most likely be fine while you clean your bathroom. It’s the industrial workers who are continuously exposed to organic solvents that are at the highest danger. Ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system), has been demonstrated to be associated with exposure to organic compounds. Lab tests that utilized animals, along with surveys of people, have both revealed this to be the case. 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 a lot of businesses are don’t know about the ototoxicity of these compounds. These hazards are known even less by workers. So there are an absence of standardized protocols to help protect the hearing of those workers. All workers who deal with solvents could have hearing screenings on a regular basis and that would be really helpful. These workers would be able to get early treatment for hearing loss because it would be discovered in its beginning phases.
You Can’t Just Quit Your Job
Periodic Hearing exams and controlling your exposure to these solvents are the most common recommendations. But if you expect that advice to be successful, you need to be mindful of the dangers first. It’s simple when the dangers are well known. It’s obvious that you have to take precautions against the noise of the factory floor and any other loud noises. But it isn’t so easy to persuade employers to take safety measures when there is an invisible hazard. Thankfully, as researchers raise more alarm bells, employees and employers are beginning to make their places of work a little bit less dangerous for everyone. Some of the most practical advice would be to wear a mask and work in a well ventilated place. Having your hearing examined by a hearing expert is also a smart idea.