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."
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...