Yep, just like a scene outta Psycho… well, sort of…
You know that “brand-spankin’-new-shower-curtain-smell” when you rip open your shower curtain from the package? Apparently it has been reported to make some people sick- headaches, nausea, eye, nose, throat irritation, liver, central nervous system, respiratory, reproductive system, and developmental damage, cancer and several other adverse health effects. It’s called “off-gassing“, especially unique to PVC (polyvinyl-chloride, often listed as Vinyl on packaging- aka “The Plastic Poison”) shower curtains and liners. They emit rather high concentrations of VOC’s and other toxic chemical fumes, several of which are listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as hazardous air pollutants and suspected carcinogens. Besides that fact… they often get moldy (using more harmful, heavy-duty shower cleaners) and end eventually pile up in landfills.
A Study done on shower curtains sold at major retailers showed that one in particular released over 108 volatile organic compounds. The study also says that just from opening new plastic/ vinyl shower curtain, it can elevate air toxins in your home for more than a month and depending on the chemicals (some phthalates) actually last for many years! Just imagine, researchers also did not take into account the heat and humidity when you turn on the shower… well, we all know about heating up plastic… WHAT? That’s nuts!
Luckily, there are many other healthy alternatives available that work. Unless you absolutely know a shower curtain is not made of PVC, don’t buy it. I personally, try to avoid plastic at all costs. Try to choose a natural fabric for your liner & curtain, such as Cotton or a Cotton blend (organic if you can find it- but it’s expensive), Bamboo, Hemp, etc. The natural fabric ones tend to be a little pricey, so maybe a Polyester or a Nylon one may be more cost-effective for you.
One mis-conception I had was that I thought I would end up with water all over the floor, and probably return it. To my surprise, my floor is as dry as a desert. And the FAB part is… that when it gets dirty… I just take it down, toss it in the wash with my regular laundry… and it goes right back up.
I’ve had mine for about a year now, and I can honestly say that it looks as brand new as the day I bought it. Plus, it’s white! It’s healthier for me, my home and the environment! I bought mine at Bed Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon. I have a Polyester one. Word on the street is that IKEA also has PVC-free ones. Give it a chance… I really love mine and I’m so glad I switched! Taking a shower should not be harmful to your health!
SaraOctober 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm
I bought a hemp shower curtain a while ago…maybe two years? We use it as the liner, and then use a decorative fabric curtain on the outside. We throw it in the wash once a month. Good as new and no chemicals!
The Glamorganic GoddessOctober 14, 2010 at 4:17 am
Hi Sara! Yeah, I do the same thing… it’s a fabulous thing, isn’t it? I feel so much better accidentally brushing up against a clean shower curtain now :)
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The Glamorganic GoddessOctober 18, 2010 at 11:52 pm
Thanks “Buy”! What kind of Dissertation Research?