Those vinyl shower curtains that nearly every home has, can emit up to 100 different chemicals. That “new shower curtain” smell is actually the out-gassing of fumes given off by these chemicals.

I replaced my shower liners with fabric ones a few months ago after my husband whined about the smell making him feel sick. Now I know he was not just being a pansy, but there is definite truth that these toxic fumes make you sick. This includes nausea, headache and many of the compounds in these PVC liners are listed as known carcinogens by the EPA.

And according to a recent LA Times article

“The study found that PVC shower curtains contained high concentrations of phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive effects, and varying concentrations of organotins, which are compounds based on tin and hydrocarbons. One of the curtains tested released measurable quantities of as many as 108 volatile organic compounds into the air, some of which persisted for nearly a month.

Seven of these chemicals — toluene, ethylbenzene, phenol, methyl isobutyl ketone, xylene, acetophenone and cumene — have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as hazardous air pollutants, said Stephen Lester, the center’s science director and a coauthor of the report.

Potential health effects include developmental damage and harm to the liver and the central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems, according to the report….

Vinyl chloride, which is a major building block of PVC, is a known human carcinogen that causes liver cancer, Lester said.”

Phthalates were recently banned in a new act pass by congress that will help protect children from such harmful substances.

If you have a vinyl shower curtain, get rid of it, preferably recycle it so it won’t end up in a landfill. And opt for a fabric version like this made from polyester or a cotton one like this. I actually really prefer them for more reasons than they are non-toxic. They look better, I feel like they are cleaner, you can toss them in the washer and of course, they don’t smell up the bathroom for weeks!

6 thoughts on “Vinyl shower curtains emit toxic chemicals

  1. But if we recycle shower curtains which contain toxic chemicals, won’t we be reintroducing those toxic chemicals back into other products we use?

    If I take my shower curtain, which has not had “new shower curtain smell” for at least a couple of years, and recycle it, is it better that the chemicals in that shower curtain end up in a water bottle which is in constant contact with the water I drink?

    It seems like it would make more sense to keep shower curtains which are no longer outgassing until they are completely worn out, then throw them away and replace them with fabric.

    If you don’t want to reuse something, don’t recycle it. Or as my father would say, “Don’t s**t where you eat.”

  2. Nancy,
    Recyle can sort of by a lose term. Like recycling batteries, really they aren’t being recycled, rather properly disposed of. If memory serves, not all plastics are recycleable, but many centers will accept them anyway to ensure they are properly disposed of and not sitting somewhere in a landfill contaminating our waters. Now I just hope that these centers are taking their jobs seriously and not using #3, 6 and 7 plastics to make into water bottles, bags, carpets, etc.

  3. John, I have a link in the article to a non-vinyl shower curtain. There are also all kinds of sites out there if you google “organic shower curtain” or “fabric shower curtain.” You can also find them at Bed Bath and Beyond. good luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s