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Vinyl Shower Curtains are Oh, So Toxic

Vinyl Shower Curtains are Oh, So Toxic

I will never forget the scene in the movie “Psycho” when a woman is showering in her motel room and Norman Bates sneaks in, rips open the shower curtain and stabs the woman to death–the scene was and is pure terror. I hate to admit this but every now and again when I am showering I am certain someone is standing just outside the shower ready to kill me and the only thing protecting me is the thin shower curtain.

As it turns out, I should have been afraid of the very thing I felt made me safe from my imagination–the shower curtain. New vinyl shower curtains containing PVC (polyvinyl chloride) can emit over 100 toxic chemicals for as long as 28 days according to a new report from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice in the U.S. and the Environmental Defense and the Canadian Environmental Law Association in Canada.

This report titled “Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell” tested five shower curtains that can be bought at any major retailer like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target and Wal-Mart. The purpose of the study was to determine what gives vinyl shower curtains their new smell.

The study concluded that the new shower curtain smell is a toxic soup of phthalates, organotins, toluene, xylene, ethylbenzene, methyl isobutyl ketone and a bunch of other chemicals that can cause headaches, nausea, and liver, central nervous system, respiratory and reproductive system damage.

If you are in the market for a shower curtain–avoid vinyl ones. If you have a new vinyl shower curtain, get rid of it or take it outside and let it air out for a month.

Read more: Blogs, Bed & Bath, Health & Safety, Safe Sweet Home, , , ,

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Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with over 10 years of experience working in the environmental and occupational health field. In addition to writing, he is currently the Environment, Health and Safety Manager for a medium-sized company that has been voted one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work For and one of CRO Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens. He lives in California with his wife and adopted pound puppy.


+ add your own
8:42PM PST on Jan 7, 2013

Glad we now have a glass shower door

12:57PM PST on Nov 28, 2012


8:17AM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

Thanks for the info.

4:50AM PST on Nov 22, 2011

Thanks for the article.

11:21AM PST on Nov 21, 2011

Both my shower curtains are of some plastic or other..I don't know what- have had them both for about 10 years..anyway, if worried, why not put the damn thing in the washing machine? I'd have thought that that would get rid of whatever dressing is on it..?

6:48PM PDT on Jul 30, 2011

No vinyl for us - we have a sliding glass door for the shower.

3:51PM PDT on Jul 18, 2011

Thankfully there are several options we can use other than vinyl!

7:51PM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

Cheers :)

6:37PM PDT on Jul 15, 2011

wow - why are they still allowed to use these materrials?

9:27PM PDT on Jun 24, 2011

Awe man... I bought a new shower curtain a couple months ago... Wish I had thought about letting it air out outside!! I think it's broken up it's chemical bonds by now... unless the shower curtain continues to emit toxic chemicals every time it's warmed up by hot shower water?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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