There’s a reason why your new shower curtain smells so strongly. The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) both have found significant off-gassing from common PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) shower curtains. They found phthalates, toluene (a carcinogen), ethylbenzene, phenol, methyl isobutyl ketone, and xylene in shower curtains bought at five major chain stores. There were up to 108 VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) leached into the air from one curtain that remained airborne for almost one month. The inhalation of these toxins can cause anything from headaches and nausea to liver, central nervous system, respiratory and reproductive problems.
Shower curtains frequently contain the obesogen tributylin. An obesogen is a chemical that disrupt our bodies’ hormones and our natural ability to maintain a healthy body weight. They can alter metabolism, promote the storage of calories as fat, increase the number of fat cells in the body, and alter gut flora.
Alternatives to Regular Vinyl
If buying a plastic curtain, look for a PVC-free, PEVA or EVA identification. PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate) and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) are plastics still made from petrochemicals (petroleum and natural gas), but they contain fewer VOC’s than regular vinyl. PEVA/EVA do contain chemicals, but are chlorine-free so have been shown to considerably reduce harmful off-gassing. They can be purchased at GreenerCountry.com.
There are also alternatives to plastic, listed below. It may be a few shillings more but worth it for protecting your health. Also, “anti-microbial/antibacterial/anti-mildew” mean more chemicals. There really is no need for these additives if you clean their shower curtains now and again.
Excerpted from http://www.greenhome.com/