Geneva Hearing Services - Geneva, IL

Organic paint and solvents that cause hearing loss.

Sometimes the dangers to your hearing are clear: a roaring jet engine or loud equipment. easy to persuade people to use ear protection when they recognize that they will be around loud sounds. But what if your hearing could be damaged by an organic substance? Just because something is organic doesn’t always mean it’s healthy for you. But how is possible that your ears could be damaged by an organic substance?

An Organic Substance You Wouldn’t Want to Eat

To clarify, these organic compounds are not something you can pick up at the produce section 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 chance of injuring your ears even with very little exposure. To be certain, the type of organic label you find on fruit in the supermarket is entirely different. In reality, the word “organic” is employed by marketers to make people believe a product is good for them. When food is designated as organic, it means that certain growing methods are implemented to keep food free of artificial contaminants. When we talk about organic solvents, the term organic is related to chemistry. In the field of chemistry, the term organic refers to any chemicals and compounds that have bonds between carbon atoms. Carbon can generate a high number of molecules and therefore worthwhile chemicals. But that doesn’t mean they’re not potentially dangerous. Millions of workers every year work with organic solvents and they’re frequently exposed to the dangers of hearing loss while doing so.

Organic Solvents, Where do You Come Across Them?

Organic solvents are used in some of the following items:

  • Varnishes and paints
  • Degreasing chemicals
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Glues and adhesives

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

Dangers Related to Organic Solvents

The more you’re subjected to these substances, according to recent research, the higher the associated risks. This means that you’ll probably 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 develop or make use of organic solvents on a commercial scale. Industrial solvents, especially, have been well researched and definitively demonstrate that exposure can trigger ototoxicity (toxicity to the auditory system). Lab tests that used animals, as well as surveys of people, have both revealed this to be true. Hearing loss in the mid frequency range can be affected when the little hair cells of the ear are injured by solvents. Regretfully, the ototoxicity of these solvents isn’t well recognized by company owners. These dangers are known even less by workers. So those workers don’t have consistent protocols to safeguard them. All workers who deal with solvents could get hearing screenings regularly and that would really help. These hearing screenings would be able to detect the very earliest signs of hearing loss, and workers would be able to react accordingly.

You Have to go to Work

Routine Hearing examinations and limiting your exposure to these compounds are the most common recommendations. But first, you need to be aware of the dangers before you can follow that advice. When the dangers are obvious, it’s not that hard. It’s obvious that you need to take precautions to protect 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 Us citizens who work with organic solvents, solutions can be a harder sell. Fortunately, as researchers raise more alarms, employers and employees alike are beginning to make their places of work a little bit safer for everyone. For the time being, it’s a good strategy to only work with these products in a well-ventilated place and to wear masks. Getting your ears tested by a hearing care professional is also a good 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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