PVC vinyl shower curtains toxic to health

Shower curtains made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic contain many harmful chemicals including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates and organotins; these PVC shower curtains are potentially toxic to the health of consumers, revealed by a recent study.

A two-phase study released by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing environmental health harms caused by chemical threats.

Results of this study show that PVC shower curtains can release toxic chemicals into the air that may lead to adverse health effects including respiratory irritation, central nervous system, liver and kidney damage, nausea, headaches and loss of coordination. The Work Group for Safe Markets is a co-sponsor of this report.

Vinyl shower curtains and shower curtain liners release chemicals into the home that are most easily identified by that “new shower curtain smell” and are routinely sold at major retail outlets.

Across the nation many consumer and environmental health organizations join CHEJ and other experts in calling for safeguards to prevent harm from exposure to toxic PVC shower curtains. For a list of state events and/or to read the full report, Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell — www.chej.org/showercurtainreport.

Key Report Findings

– 108 different volatile organic compounds were released from the shower curtain into the air over twenty-eight days.

– After one week, 40 different VOCs were detected in the air; after two weeks, 16 VOCS; after three weeks 11 VOCs and; after four weeks, 4 VOCs.

– 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, violating these guidelines for seven days.

– Just one new PVC shower curtain will release Total VOCs that exceed the typical Total VOCs residential level for four days.

– The concentration of Total VOCs in the Wal-Mart tested shower curtain was so high that the analytical equipment was saturated and further testing had to be halted so that lab equipment would not be damaged.

– All five curtains tested in phase one contained phthalates DEHP and DINP, chemicals banned in children’s toys in California, Washington, and the European Union.

– This testing did not replicate temperature and humidity conditions typically found in a shower, which would likely increase the concentrations of volatile pollutants released from a PVC curtain into the air of a bathroom; concentrations of these chemicals are likely to be even greater during and after a shower than those reported in this study.

Source: Center for Health, Environment & Justice, USA

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