image by Joe Shlabotnik

Don’t be fooled by the “new shower curtain smell” emitted when you buy a new one.  That smell is actually an indication of the toxic substances that are being released, or off-gassed.  Most shower curtains and curtain liners are made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates and metals, all of which cause a host of problems like respiratory irritation, damage to the central nervous system, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and even worse.  In a study recently published by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice entitled “Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell”, claims more than 100 chemicals are released into the air when consumers open the curtain packages. The level of total VOCs measured was over 16 times greater than the recommended guidelines for indoor air quality established by the U.S. Green Building Council and Washington State Indoor Air Quality Program.  Seven of the chemicals released by the shower curtain are classified as hazardous air pollutants by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act.  The heat and humidity in the shower may make the VOC concentrations even worse.

The alternative to toxic PVC shower curtains is to buy cotton (organic cotton is even better), duck cotton, recycled sail cloth or hemp, which are readily available on line.  Retail giants like Target and Bed and Bath are now aware of the problem with PVC and are carrying non-PVC shower curtains and liners. I just bought an inexpensive curtain liner made from 100% EVA Vinyl, a more environmentally friendly plastic that is produced without chlorine.   So – stop inhaling toxic substances and replace your shower curtain now!  You’ll be happy you did!


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by nancy yardley on July 9, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    another wonderfully informative article! Thanks-


  2. Posted by Sue Pearson on July 9, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Thanks for posting. My hubby who has asthma always reacted to putting up new shower curtains. We usually had to air them outside for a day or two before hanging until I found alternatives.


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