PVC Vinyl Shower Curtains are toxicWhen I read the recent 44 page report on the dangers of the indoor air pollution that

[tag] PVC shower curtains [/tag] cause, I was alarmed! Included in this report is a 3.5 page listing of volatile organic compounds released from

[tag] PVC [/tag] shower curtains, almost all of the compounds identified have a real chemical/toxic sounding name.

Not only that, but I was also shocked to read how the authors recommended PVC shower curtains be disposed of. “PVC should be treated as a hazardous material. As an interim measure, PVC could be disposed of in “secure” triple-lined hazardous waste landfills.” 1

The Stink on PVC Shower Curtains

“New laboratory tests reveal the familiar “new shower curtain smell” may be toxic to our health. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic shower curtains purchased at Bed Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Sears, Target, and Wal-Mart all contain avoidable toxic chemicals including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates, organotins and metals.

Some of these chemicals are volatile, so they are released into the air inside our homes. This new study reveals that PVC shower curtains can release as many as 108 volatile organic chemicals. Some of these chemicals cause developmental damage as well as damage to the liver and central nervous, respiratory, and reproductive systems. In addition, some chemicals were found in the air 28 days after a PVC shower curtain was unwrapped and hung. This investigation shows that PVC shower curtains are significant contributors to indoor air pollution.” 2

Our little ones are so vulnerable to all of these harmful toxins. Bath time should be a time to enjoy, not a time to breathe in deadly indoor pollution from outgassing of a shower curtain!

Toxins Released From PVC Shower Curtains

The production of PVC shower curtains involves cancer causing chemicals this report says!

Toxins Released from PVC Shower Curtains“No Federal standards exist to protect the air in our homes from toxic chemicals released by consumer products. No federal agency has the legal authority to regulate the consumer products that release toxic chemicals into the air inside our homes. Neither the EPA, which regulates the ambient air (USEPA 2008), nor the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which regulates chemicals in consumer products, can do this. Therefore, no standards for toxic chemicals in indoor residential air have been set, despite the fact that studies show VOCs are typically higher in indoor air than outdoor air and are a major health concern. It is clear our chemical regulatory system is broken and needs to be fixed.” 3

Side Effects of Toxins from PVC Shower Curtains

PVC Toxins in Shower Curtains

Safe Alternatives to PVC Shower Curtains

Here are a few safe alternatives to toxic PVC shower curtains. Have fun in choosing yours!

  1. Hemp Shower Curtains: We like this option the best because hemp is a naturally mold resistant fabric.
  2. Organic Cotton/Cloth/Flax-based Linen Shower Curtains
  3. EVA Shower Curtains (ethylene vinyl acetate): an alternative plastic

Where to Buy PVC-Free Shower Curtains

Non Toxic, PVC-free Shower CurtainMost retailers are now carrying

[tag] PVC-free shower curtains [/tag], but most still carry a variety of PVC ones also.

Ikea (by the way) was the first to phase out of this toxic plastic shower curtain over 11 years ago.

Also, we would like to add that

[tag] vinyl [/tag] is another way to say PVC. This should further help you in wisely reading all labels. So this article could also be titled the

[tag] Dangers of Vinyl Shower Curtains [/tag]. Hope this helps with any confusion that may easily be out there due to clever descriptive wording.

Don’t forget to look for a label that reads “

[tag] PVC-free[/tag]”, and if it does not have it, don’t buy it and don’t support it. Have fun, and don’t forget your PVC-free rubber duckie!

What do you do with your PVC shower curtain?

We asked Mike Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator for CHEJ (Center for Health, Environment and Justice)

Here is our question: “If I have a PVC/Vinyl shower curtain in my bathroom now, it is over 12 months old and it doesn’t smell, should i throw it away? Is it still toxic or has it already been outgassed? I also don’t want to create more trash if this is an unnecessary throw away now. “

Mike Schade’s answer:
“Good question. As mom always said it’s better to be safe than sorry, so we recommend parents replace their PVC shower curtains with PVC-free ones (even after a year), and instead of clogging it up at the landfill or incinerator, returning it to the store where you purchased it from and ask the store manager or CEO to phase out vinyl.

We don’t really know whether it off-gasses after a year because our study only evaluated off-gassing over a 28-day period. We did find the levels significantly decreased by the 28-day mark, however there’s a chance some chemicals may continue to off-gass beyond that point. For example, given that the shower curtains contain high levels of phthalates, I’d expect those would slowly off-gass over time (slower than the VOCs since they are “semi volatile”).”


Full Report on PVC Shower Curtains

Read the full report sponsored by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice’s (CHEJ) PVC Campaign and the Work Group for Safe Markets.

Footnotes to PVC Shower Curtain Report
1 Stephen Lester, Michael Schade, Caitlin Weigand, Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), June 2008, VOLATILE VINYL The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell, p.31.
2 Stephen Lester, Michael Schade, Caitlin Weigand, Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), June 2008, VOLATILE VINYL The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell, p.5.
3 Stephen Lester, Michael Schade, Caitlin Weigand, Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), June 2008, VOLATILE VINYL The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell, p.28.