Oklahoma City, OK

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HEARING TIPS

“Organic” Isn’t Always Good For You

Organic paint and solvents that cause hearing loss.

Sometimes the dangers to your hearing are clear: loud machines or a roaring jet engine. It’s not difficult to convince people to protect their ears when they recognize that they will be around loud sounds. But what if there was an organic substance that was just as bad for your ears as too much noise? After all, if something is organic, doesn’t that mean it’s good for you? How can something that’s organic be just as bad for your hearing as loud noise?

You Might Not Want to Eat This Organic Substance

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 strong possibility that a collection of chemicals called organic solvents can injure your hearing even if exposure is minimal and brief. It’s worthwhile to note that, in this case, organic does not refer to the kind of label you see on fruit in the supermarket. In reality, the word “organic” is utilized by marketers to make consumers presume a product is good for them. The word organic, when associated with food signifies that the growers didn’t employ certain chemicals. When we mention organic solvents, the term organic is chemistry-related. Within the discipline of chemistry, the word organic describes any compounds and chemicals that have bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon atoms can create all varieties of different molecules and, consequently, a large number of different useful chemicals. But at times they can also be harmful. Millions of workers each year handle organic solvents and they’re frequently exposed to the risks of hearing loss while doing so.

Where do You Come Across Organic Solvents?

Organic solvents are found in some of the following items:

  • Cleaning products
  • Paints and varnishes
  • Degreasing chemicals
  • Glues and adhesives

You get the point. So, here’s the question, will your hearing be damaged by cleaning or painting?

Hazard Associated With Organic Solvents

The more you’re exposed to these substances, according to current research, the higher the associated hazard. So when you clean your home you will most likely be okay. It’s the industrial laborers who are regularly around organic solvents that are at the highest risk. Ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system), has been demonstrated to be associated with subjection to organic compounds. This has been demonstrated both in laboratory experiments involving animals and in experiential surveys with actual people. Loss of hearing in the mid frequency range can be affected when the tiny hair cells in the ear are damaged by solvents. Regretfully, the ototoxicity of these solvents isn’t well known by company owners. Even fewer workers know about the dangers. So those employees don’t have consistent protocols to protect them. One thing that may really help, for instance, would be standardized hearing examinations for all workers who handle organic compounds on a regular basis. These hearing examinations would be able to detect the very earliest signs of hearing loss, and workers could react appropriately.

You Need to go to Work

Regular Hearing tests and controlling your exposure to these compounds are the most frequent suggestions. But first, you have to be aware of the dangers before you can follow that advice. It’s simple when the hazards are well known. It’s obvious that you should take precautions to protect against the noise of the factory floor and any other loud sounds. But when the danger is not visible as it is for the millions of Americans who work with organic solvents, solutions can be more difficult to sell. Fortunately, as researchers sound more alarms, employees and employers are starting to make their work environments a little bit safer for everyone. Some of the most practical advice would be to use a mask and work in a well ventilated place. Having your ears evaluated by a hearing care professional is also a smart idea.

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