Audio Life Hearing Center- Knoxville, TN

Organic paint and solvents that cause hearing loss.

At times the dangers to your hearing are clear: the roaring jet engine beside your ears or the bellowing machinery on the floor of a factory. easy to convince people to protect their ears when they recognize that they will be around loud sounds. But what if your hearing could be damaged by an organic compound? After all, if something is organic, doesn’t that necessarily mean it’s healthy for you? But how is possible that your ears could be damaged by an organic substance?

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 chance that a collection of chemicals known as organic solvents can injure your hearing even if exposure is minimal and limited. To be certain, the kind of organic label you find on fruit in the supermarket is entirely different. The truth is, marketers make use of the positive connections we have with the word “organic” to get us to buy products with the implication that it’s good for you (or at the very least not bad for you). When food is labeled as organic, it means that specific growing methods are used to keep food free of artificial contaminants. When we mention organic solvents, the term organic is related to chemistry. In the discipline of chemistry, the term organic represents any chemicals and compounds that have bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can produce a large number of molecules and therefore worthwhile chemicals. But at times they can also be unsafe. Millions of workers every year handle organic solvents and they’re frequently exposed to the hazards of hearing loss as they do so.

Where do You Come Across Organic Solvents?

Some of the following products have organic solvents:

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Degreasing agents
  • Paints and varnishes
  • Adhesives and glue

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

Organic Solvents And The Dangers Associated With Them

The more you’re subjected to these substances, based on recent research, the higher the associated risks. This means that you’ll most likely be fine while you clean your bathroom. The most potent risk is experienced by those with the most prolonged contact, in other words, factory workers who produce or make use of organic solvents on an industrial scale. Ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system), has been demonstrated to be associated with subjection to organic substances. This has been shown both in lab experiments involving animals and in experiential surveys involving actual people. Loss of hearing in the mid frequency range can be affected when the little hair cells in the ear are damaged by solvents. Unfortunately, the ototoxicity of these solvents isn’t well known by business owners. Even fewer workers know about the dangers. So there are a lack of standardized protocols to safeguard the hearing of those employees. All workers who deal with solvents could get hearing examinations regularly and that would really help. These hearing examinations would detect the very earliest signs of hearing loss, and workers could react appropriately.

You Have to go to Work

Periodic Hearing assessments and limiting your exposure to these compounds are the most common recommendations. But if you expect that advice to be successful, you have to be informed of the dangers first. When the dangers are in plain sight, it’s not that hard. No one doubts that loud noises can harm your hearing and so precautions to protect your ears from the daily sound of the factory floor are obvious and logical. But when the threat is invisible as is the case for the millions of people who work with organic solvents, solutions can be a harder sell. Luckily, ongoing research is helping both employees and employers take a safer approach. Some of the most practical advice would be to use a mask and work in a well ventilated area. Having your ears examined by a hearing care specialist is also a smart idea.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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