Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Ear Wax
Name: Becc
Status: student
Age: 13
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2002042


Question:
Why do we have ear wax?


Replies:
My understanding is that ear wax does washes away bacteria that try to grow in your ears. The micro-organisms are trapped in the sticky substance that is slowly pushed out of the hearing canal by tiny hairs.

The body uses this 'mechanical cleaning' in other parts as well: tears wash away bacteria from your eyes every time you blink (and it can even kill bacteria since tears contain certain proteins that kills bacteria). When you scrape your throat you remove microorganisms that were trapped in the slime in your upper respiratory tract. Even urine flushes the walls of the urine canal on its way out. It is a simple way of keeping surfaces clean that are in contact to the outside world. Even thought of the fact that the inner of your ears is being part of your 'outside' body?

Trudy Wassenaar


Click here to return to the Zoology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory