Tuesday, July 1, 2008

no more vinyl

A recent study takes a big note from method's squeaky green book, announcing to the world that, tada, vinyl shower curtains are unsafe! Check out the full article:

"By Tami Abdollah

Vinyl shower curtains sold at major U.S. retailers emit toxic chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems, according to a report released Thursday by a national environmental organization.

The curtains, sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart, among other major retailers, contained high concentrations of chemicals linked to liver damage and damage to the central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems, said researchers for the Virginia-based Center for Health, Environment & Justice.

The organization commissioned the study about two years ago to determine what caused that "new-shower-curtain smell" familiar to most consumers.

"This smell can make you feel sick, give you a headache, make you feel nauseous or [cause] other health effects," said Michael Schade, a co-author of the report.

Researchers tested the chemical composition of five new polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, plastic shower curtains purchased from Bed Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart. One curtain was then tested to determine the chemicals it released into the air.

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

Seven chemicals, which include toluene, ethylbenzene, phenol, methyl isobutyl ketone, xylene, acetophenone and cumene, have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as hazardous air pollutants, said Stephen Lester, the Center for Health, Environment & Justice's science director and a co-author of the report.

Potential health effects included developmental damage; and harm to the liver and the central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems.

Phthalates and organotins are often added to soften or otherwise enhance the curtain; they more easily evaporate into the air or cling to household dust, Lester said. So do volatile organic chemicals, he said.

Vinyl chloride, a major building block of PVC, is a human carcinogen, Lester said.

Representatives of the companies selling the shower curtains were not available for comment.

Little information on toxicity is available for 86 of the 108 chemicals detected in the curtains, Lester said.

The tests did not replicate the heat and humidity in shower use, conditions researchers think would likely increase the concentration of released chemicals, according to the report.

The EPA has tested vinyl shower curtains, and in 2002 said it found many of the same chemicals were released."

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You know what? Whether books like squeaky green want you to jump up and shout to the world NO MORE (fill in the blank here), or just get you to thinking, they do one thing. - Scare you. But perhaps it's for the best. After you read something, you sorta can't do what you've been doing before, without that little voice in your head going "uh-uh! You know that's a no-no." In fact, I went shower curtain and liner shopping just this past weekend. I ended up buying a fabric liner, but couldn't find a fabric shower curtain anywhere that matched these new towels I'd purchased. I looked and looked!

When I finally found one I thought might work, it was a vinyl shower curtain. I picked it up, thinking about it, saying to my internal self "WELL, you know what squeaky green says, don't you? Dang it, I do. Vinyl = Bad. But it's so cute, and I finally found one that might work! Ah, dang." And I put'er back.

And returned the towels. Ok, ok, I returned the towels mainly cause I just didn't need new towels. (I was just being a home decor wh*re.) But also because I couldn't find a freakin' shower curtain that matched (and trust me, I looked! What's the deal?) But in the end, squeaky green helped me out! Have you had any "after reading squeaky green" real world experiences? Tell us!

Now, how about that new car smell? (which I always thought was nasty.) Hmm...

5 comments:

Netta said...

Nathan I can totally relate. I read that book and when I finished I did not want to live in my home. I was so scared. I instantly pulled out all of my method cleaning products and went to work cleaning my home from top to bottom ( and my home is 3 levels). After all of that I wanted to go to sleep and I thought "oh no I can't even sleep in my bed because of the dust mites and other allergens". The next day I bought an all natural mattress cover from Macy's and bought organic towels, bath mats, and bedding. Since then I have actually gone and purcashed an new mattress made from natural fibers and supposedly free of dustmites and allergens I also purchased another mattress cover just in case since the old mattress cover did not fit anymore.I am now doing research to replace my area rugs in my home and living room furniture.

Sprockets said...

This is good info for everyone to know. PVC is bad news.

The "new car smell" is pretty much the same thing. What you are smelling are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are off-gassing out of the car's material. Fun stuff like formaldehyde and toluene and other solvents. Same can happen for paints, so look for low-VOC paints.

Another fun fact: your daily shower might be your greatest daily exposure to toxins (along with nicotine). This is because disinfection byproducts (from the chlorination process) in the water (such as haloketones and haloacetic acids) readily evaporate from the hot little water droplets into the enclosed bathroom, ready for you to inhale along with your favourite method body wash ;)
You can get a water filter for your shower head to help reduce these disinfection byproducts.

So, what are the good non-vinyl shower curtain options??

Netta said...

sprockets I did some surfing on the internet and came across this site for non-vinyl shower curtain options:

http://www.greenyourdecor.com/?p=512

http://www.greenyourdecor.com/?p=524

Kristin Hoenicke said...

I read Squeaky Green several weeks ago and need to read it again. There's so much good information. I'm trying to take baby steps to slowly change my habits and turn things over in my home. I moved 2 days ago and needed to buy a new shower curtain. I was worried that I'd have to order one online and didn't want to wait that long. Good news! Target carries them! Just look for the EVA Free ones. Nothing pretty, but I like to add the decorative ones on the outside anyway.

Lynda said...

My post relates how I believe the EPA is unduly influenced by chemical company organizations to the detriment of the US Public. I think the possible related keyword is toluene since its one of the chemicals found in vinyl shower curtains. IMHO the efficiency of the US EPA is compromised due to
Bush officials with ties to the American Chemistry Council.
EPA, Chemical Manufacturers Assn, toluene, Public Health.
My writing is on the very strong possibility, the US environmental protection agency may be influenced by outside forces that make it virtually impossible for it to be totally objective. This includes men in top positions with ties to the Chemical Manufacturers Association. The name is now American Chemistry Council. One of its subgroups is the American Solvent Council. The names and positions of these men are James Connaughton, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality and Jeffry Holmstead EPA's director of Air and Radiation. Both men are directly associated with the American Chemical Council, formerly the Chemical Manufacturers Assn. The official lobbying group for chemical companies.
Several of his oncologists believe my husband's myelofibrosis and possibly his acute myeloid leukemia subtype M7 was caused by a certain substance. This substance was toluene.. Jerry was in contact with this when he was employed in a dry cleaners for seven years. He worked with this chemical weekly. It is a solvent and a hydrocarbon. According to the Oxford American Dictionary toluene is a derivative of benzene.

There are seven subtypes of acute myeloid leukemia. Suffice to say for the purpose of my article M7 is the type caused by scarring of the bone marrow, aka myelofibrosis. Myelofibrosis is considered by the medical profession as a myeloproliferative disease. The definition of myeloproliferative is as follows: Proliferation of cells in the bone marrow. These cells include white blood cells, red blood cells (corpuscles) and platelets. Myelo is the medical term for bone marrow.

I noticed, within days, in my search for toluene as a carcinogen one glaring note. Most of the medical sites claimed the chemical did cause cancer. It was a factor in the blood cancers. The EPA a US govt. agency said it wasn't carcinogenic. It did state it was a probable human carcinogen. However it stopped from stating it caused cancer. In other words it went, metaphorically speaking, getting engaged, planning the entire wedding and then getting cold feet and calling the marriage off.
The chemical is known scientifically as methylbenzene. Benzene is dealkylation of toluene. Dealkylation is when are more than one alkyl group is substituted for atoms of hydrogen. The relationship to toluene is this. Toluene is an alkyl group bound to a benzene ring. I find it at the very
least intriguing that benzene and toluene are so closely tied together. The two are definitely related. Please note benzene is definitely linked with causing leukemia. Its suspected to be a causative factor in Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma and Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. These are cancers of components of the bone marrow. I can hardly believe its a mere coincidence toluene is so closely linked to benzene. Toluene is an analogous compound to benzene. In fact it is derived from Benzene. Hydrodealkylation turns toluene to benzene. Source. www.answers.com hydrodealkylation The link to toluene and cancer been known for 20years

Toluene is used in the paint industry in paint thinners, Dry Cleaning companies, adhesive manufacturing, as a solvent in many industries, machinery manufacturing and repair, insecticides, pharmacueticals, printing, wood staining and varnishes. Source www.scorecard.org. Scorecard is an unbiased source on information on polluting chemicals.
Medical sites such as www.medscape.com, webmd.com, emedicine.com claims it does cause leukemia. US Government sites for the most part says it doesn't. I wonder if the fact that two of the officials of the EPA are with major connections of the Chemical Manufacturers Association. The Chemical Manufacturers Association are one of the biggest contributors to George W. Bush's presidency. I don't believe this is merely coincidence. The CMA defends some of the worst polluters in the US. Or if you're Jungian, synchronicity either for that matter.

Maybe this doesn't exactly prove the EPA is being influenced by the CMA. However at the very least it certainly doesn't look Kosher either. No govt. agency of what ever nation should be composed of people with any conflict of interest of what ever kind.

Here are some links to medical sites I found by doing a search on toluene and cancer using www.medscape.com This is a health search engine used by health care professionals. Health consumers can use it too. It uses www.medscape.com, www.emedicine.com, www.medline.com. Everyone of them are professional medical resources.

http://www.emedicine.com/med/TOPIC78.HTM This is on myelofibrosis. This is a condition that causes scarring of the bone marrow. It can be linked to acute myeloid leukemia. Its the subtype M7 type. http://www.emedicine.com/ped/TOPIC1301.HTM Topic AML.
www.virtualcancercentre.com says certain organic chemicals such as benzene and toluene are linked to AML. Each of these links definitely state there is a direct link between toluene and acute myeloid leukemia and myelofibrosis. Each of these links are true medical sites.

do know the CMA, in 1998, petitioned the EPA (environmental protection agency) to declare toluene as not being a volatile organic compound. This ruling still stands. The truth is it most certainly is. One way of knowing if any substance is volatile is to note an odor. Toluene definitely smells. Its the exact same substance used in glue, nail polish, nail polish remover. Each of these items exhibits a somewhat strong, sweet odor. In fact it was this aromatic quality that led to glue sniffing to get high. This glue contains toluene.

Toluene definitely is odoriferous. Howeever its perfume next t when the EPA says something is non-carcinogenic when medical professionals claim it is. I wonder how many people's health is severely damaged because of this discrepancy? Millions of females from lets say, twelve to whenever paint their nails, practically daily. How many are exposed to toluene. I would venture to say millions, if not tens of
adparams.getadspec('c_billboard1'); I discovered that the secretary of the interior under the George W. Bush administration had direct connections with the Chemical Nanufacturers Association. My suspicion is the CMA is influencing the EPA to the detriment of the health of the US population.

Maybe I'm wrong. Yet when I see some of the top level people of the Bush presidency are connected with an organization with much to gain with lax environmental rulings I became rather suspicious. This is especially so when they just happen to be major contributors to G.W. Bush. I find it quite difficult believe its merely coincidental. On the contrary I think its no accident that the EPA isn't as reliable , trustworthy as it should be.

My husband may have been a victim of the CMA influence of the EPA. I wonder how many others were victimized too. Believing they were dealing with non carcinogens when in reality they were. I wonder too, how many other carcinogens or for that matter, chemicals US citizens are in the dark because of undue influence by professional groups with agendas influencing the EPA?
One may say, well isn't everything composed of chemicals. Yes, of course this is true. However these are firms that deal exclusively in the chemicals themselves. It certainly seems to me that any organization that holds an agenda that prevents any US government agency not totally objective should be disallowed to be an influence. This includes anybody with any connections with such organizations. The EPA and every other US govt. organization should not be tainted. People's health and trust is at stake

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