“Organic” Isn’t Always Good For You

Organic paint and solvents that cause hearing loss.

Sometimes it can be easy to identify dangers to your hearing: loud equipment or a roaring jet engine. When the hazards are logical and intuitive, it’s easy to convince people to take pragmatic solutions (which commonly include using earplugs or earmuffs). But what if there was an organic substance that was just as bad for your hearing as excessive 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 May Not Want to Eat This Organic Compound

To clarify, these organic substances are not something you can pick up at the produce section of your grocery store and you wouldn’t want to. According to recent (and some not-so-recent) research published by European scholars, chemicals called organic solvents have a good chance of harming your ears even with very little exposure. It’s worthwhile to note that, in this case, organic doesn’t make reference to the type of label you see on fruit in the supermarket. Actually, marketers utilize the positive associations we have with the word “organic” to get us to buy products with the suggestion it’s actually good for you (or at the very least not bad for you). The word organic, when related to food means that the growers didn’t utilize certain chemicals. The word organic, when associated with solvents, is a chemistry term. In the field of chemistry, the term organic makes reference to any chemicals and compounds that consist of bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can generate a significant number of molecules and consequently practical chemicals. But that doesn’t imply they aren’t potentially hazardous. Millions of workers every year handle organic solvents and they’re frequently exposed to the hazards of hearing loss while doing so.

Organic Solvents, Where do You Come Across Them?

Some of the following products contain organic solvents:

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Paints and varnishes
  • Degreasing agents
  • Glues and adhesives

You get the point. So, this is the question, will your hearing be damaged by painting or even cleaning?

Organic Solvents And The Hazards Associated With Them

The more you’re subjected to these substances, based on recent research, the higher the corresponding hazard. This means that you’ll most likely be fine while you clean your bathroom. It’s the industrial laborers who are regularly around organic solvents that are at the highest danger. Industrial solvents, most notably, have been well investigated and definitively reveal that exposure can trigger ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system). Lab tests that utilized animals, along with surveys of people, have both revealed this to be the case. Subjection to the solvents can have a detrimental effect on the outer hair cells of the ear, resulting in hearing loss in the mid-frequency range. The issue is that a lot of companies are don’t know about the ototoxicity of these compounds. An even smaller number of workers are aware of the hazards. So those workers don’t have standardized protocols to safeguard them. One thing that may really help, for instance, would be standardized hearing examinations for all workers who deal with organic solvents on a regular basis. These workers could get early treatment for hearing loss because it would be detected in its beginning stages.

You Have to go to Work

Regular Hearing examinations and controlling your exposure to these solvents are the most common recommendations. But first, you have to be conscious of the hazards before you can heed that advice. When the risks are obvious, it’s not that hard. It’s obvious that you have to take safeguards to protect against the noise of the factory floor and any other loud noises. But it isn’t so straight forward to persuade employers to take precautions when there is an invisible hazard. Fortunately, as specialists sound more alarms, employees and employers are starting to make their places of work a little bit less dangerous for everyone. Some of the most practical advice would be to use a mask and work in a well ventilated spot. It would also be a practical plan to have your ears examined by a hearing specialist.