Bookmark Us
All Food, Diet and Health News 
 Misc. News
 Must-Read News
 Letter to Editor
 Featured Products
 Recalls & Alerts
 Consumer Affair
 Non-food Things
 Health Tips
 Interesting Sites
 Diet & Health
 Heart & Blood
 Body Weight
 Children & Women
 General Health
 Food & Health
 Food Chemicals
 Biological Agents
 Cooking & Packing
 Agri. & Environ.
 Laws & Politics
 General Health
 Drug News
 Mental Health
 Infectious Disease
 Other News
 Food Consumer
 FC News & Others

Search Foodconsumer & Others

Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo
Newsfeed news feed
Su bmit news[release]

More than 100 credit cards available at from, you can pick more than 100 credit cards

General Health : Environment Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

PVC shower curtains release harmful chemicals
By Ben Wasserman
Jun 13, 2008 - 9:29:22 AM

E.mail t.his a.rticle
 P.rinter f.riendly p.age
Get n.ewsletter

FRIDAY June 13, 2008 ( -- Using polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-based shower curtains in the household may pose a health risk because the curtains of this type release a number of toxic chemicals such as toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and others at the point of purchasing and during at least the first month of use, according to a study released by an environmental group.

Environmental advocates on June 12 issued a call for Wal-Mart and other retailers to immediately phase out PVC shower curtains and for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall PVC shower curtains from store shelves after the study found high concentrations of some VOCs and other toxic chemicals are released into the air over a period of one month.

The two-phase study was sponsored by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing environmental health.  Shower curtains used for the testing were purchased from Bed Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart.   Phase one of the study measured several hazardous chemicals in five of the PVC shower curtains present at the time of purchase.  Phase two measured the concentration of VOCs which continue to release from a shower curtain up to twenty-eight days after a consumer starts to use it in the household.

CHEJ says in a statement that shower curtains made of PVC plastic contain many harmful chemical including VOCs, phthalates and organotins and these PVC curtains are potentially toxic to the health of consumers.

“Vinyl shower curtains and shower curtain liners release chemicals into the home that are most easily identified by that ‘new shower curtain smell’ and are routinely sold at major retail outlets. Results of this study show that PVC shower curtains can release toxic chemicals into the air that may lead to adverse health effects including respiratory irritation, central nervous system, liver and kidney damage, nausea, headaches and loss of coordination,” the organization states in its news release.

The key findings of the study include the following cited in verbatim from a CHEJ press release:

• 108 different volatile organic compounds were released from the shower curtain into the air over twenty-eight days.

• After one week, 40 different VOCs were detected in the air; after two weeks, 16 VOCS; after three weeks 11 VOCs and; after four weeks, 4 VOCs.

• The level of Total VOCs measured was over 16 times greater than the recommended guidelines for indoor air quality established by the U.S. Green Building Council, violating these guidelines for seven days.

• Just one new PVC shower curtain will release Total VOCs that exceed the typical Total VOCs residential level for four days.

• The concentration of Total VOCs in the Wal-Mart tested shower curtain was so high that the analytical equipment was saturated and further testing had to be halted so that lab equipment would not be damaged.

• All five curtains tested in phase one contained phthalates DEHP and DINP, chemicals banned in children’s toys in California, Washington, and the European Union.

• This testing did not replicate temperature and humidity conditions typically found in a shower, which would likely increase the concentrations of volatile pollutants released from a PVC curtain into the air of a bathroom; concentrations of these chemicals are likely to be even greater during and after a shower than those reported in this study.

 “The release of so many volatile organic compounds, many of which are toxic, raises serious questions about the risks PVC shower curtains pose to families, especially young children exposed to these vapors. Every effort should be made to eliminate PVC shower curtains from homes and to replace them with safer alternatives,” said CHEJ Science Director and report co-author, Stephen Lester.

Lester on June 10 Lester testified at the U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee hearing on phthalates and bisphenol A in consumer products such as PVC shower curtains.

Early in 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) detected decane in a new PVC shower curtain and in 2002 the agency also found toluene, phenol, ethylbenzene and methul isobutyl ketone in PVC shower curtains.  The EPA study found elevated levels of these chemical evident beyond one month. These findings are similar to what was found in the CHEJ study.

“Six years after the EPA found that PVC shower curtains continue to release toxic chemicals into the air we breathe for a month or longer, our study shows that nothing has changed. Something must be done to protect consumers from any potential harm these toxic chemicals cause. Wal-Mart and other retailers need to phase out these toxic chemicals. As Congress is considering a variety of chemical policy reforms, it must address the reality that no legal authority currently exists to enable the federal government to regulate consumer products which release toxic chemicals into the air inside our homes – air our children breathe every day,” said CHEJ founder and Executive Director Lois Gibbs.

The United States produces nearly 15 billion pounds of PVC annually, according to the CHEJ.   Some chemicals used to make the soft PVC plastic including phthalate s , Vinyl chloride monomer, and byproducts dioxins are of serious concerns to human health and the environment.  Phthalates can cause reproductive problems including shorter pregnancy duration and sperm damage in males ; vinyl chloride, recognized by the EPA as a carcinogen can cause a rare form of liver cancer, damage the liver and central nervous system and dioxins can suppress immune system and cause reproductive disorders, a variety of cancers, and endometriosis.

The key symptoms associated with VOC exposure include eye irritation, nose and throat discomfort, difficulty breathing, allergic skin reaction, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness and nose bleeding, according to the CHEJ.

"The brain is a major target for VOCs, causing everything from headache and loss of concentration to learning disabilities in children whose mothers were exposed before their birth, as shown in a recent Canadian study. Since there are safe alternatives to vinyl shower curtains, such exposures should always be avoided," said David O. Carpenter, M.D., of the Institute for Health & The Environment at the University at Albany, SUNY.

The CHEJ and other organizations recommend the following to protect consumers, workers & communities from PVC:

• The Federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is 30 years old and must be updated to regulate consumer products which contribute to indoor air pollution and cause health harm.

• The Consumer Product Safety Commission should immediately recall all PVC shower curtains from store shelves.

• Manufactures and retailers should switch to safer products such as organic cotton shower curtains.

• Government at all levels should act quickly to ban the use of PVC in shower curtains.

• Consumers should avoid purchasing shower curtains made with PVC, and should not buy shower curtains that are not labeled with their content.

For more information, read the full report, Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

Top of Page


Search Consumer-friendly Health Sites

We have moved to Food Consumer . Org

disclaimer | advertising | jobs | privacy | about us | newsletter | Submit news/articles
link partners: | Buy Viagra | |
Buy a home | Auto Insurance | Mortgage refinancing | | Take Your Blog to a Higher Level
© Copyright 2004 - 2008 All rights reserved

Disclaimer: What's published on this website should be considered opinions of respective writers only and which has no political agenda nor commercial ambition may or may not endorse any opinion of any writer. No accuracy is guaranteed although writers are doing their best to provide accurate information only. The information on this website should not be construed as medical advice and should not be used to replace professional services provided by qualified or licensed health care workers. The site serves only as a platform for writers and readers to share knowledge, experience, and information from the scientific community, organizations, government agencies and individuals. encourages readers who have had medical conditions to consult with licensed health care providers - conventional and or alternative medical practitioners.