HEARING TIPS

“Organic” Isn’t Necessarily Good For You

Organic paint and solvents that cause hearing loss.

Sometimes it’s easy to discern dangers to your ears: a loud jet engine next to your ears or the screeching machines on the factory floor. easy to persuade people to protect their ears when they know they will be around loud sounds. But what if there was an organic compound that was as harmful for your hearing as too much noise? After all, if something is organic, doesn’t that necessarily 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 Substance

To clarify, these organic substances are not something you can get at 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 possibility of damaging your ears even with very little exposure. To be certain, the kind of organic label you see on fruit in the grocery store is totally different. The truth is, marketers make use of the positive connections we have with the word “organic” to sell us products with the suggestion that it’s actually good for you (or at the very least not bad for you). The term organic, when related to food signifies that the growers didn’t employ particular chemicals. When we talk about organic solvents, the term organic is chemistry-related. Within the discipline of chemistry, the word organic refers to any chemicals and compounds that have bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can create a significant number of molecules and consequently useful chemicals. But at times they can also be hazardous. Each year, millions of workers are exposed to the dangers of hearing loss by working with organic solvents.

Organic Solvents, Where do You Come Across Them?

Organic solvents are used in some of the following products:

  • Glues and adhesives
  • Degreasing elements
  • Cleaning products
  • Varnishes and paints

You get the idea. So, the question quickly becomes, will your hearing be harmed by painting or even cleaning?

Dangers Related to Organic Solvents

The more you’re exposed to these substances, based on recent research, the higher the corresponding dangers. So when you clean your home you will most likely be okay. It’s the industrial workers who are continuously around organic solvents that have the highest danger. Industrial solvents, most notably, have been well investigated 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 revealed this to be true. Hearing loss in the mid frequency range can be affected when the tiny hair cells of the ear are injured by solvents. The issue is that a lot of companies are don’t know about the ototoxicity of these solvents. These risks are known even less by workers. So those employees don’t have consistent protocols to protect them. One thing that could really help, for instance, would be standardized hearing exams for all workers who deal with organic compounds on a consistent basis. These workers would be able to get early treatment for hearing loss because it would be detected in its beginning phases.

You Need to Work

Most suggestions for protecting your ears from these specific organic substances include managing your exposure coupled with routine hearing examinations. But if you want that advice to be successful, you need to be mindful of the risks first. It’s simple 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 people who work with organic solvents, solutions can be more difficult to sell. Fortunately, as specialists sound more alarms, employees and employers are moving to make their places of work a little bit safer for everyone. Some of the most practical advice would be to use a mask and work in a well ventilated spot. Getting your ears examined by a hearing expert is also a good idea.

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