Throw a stone and it will probably bounce of a piece of plastic or two. We are surrounded by a world of man-made, chemically enhanced furniture, toys, utensils, clothing, bath supplies and so much more. Nowadays it is not only necessary to research and diligently hand-pick our food, it is also necessary to educate ourselves on the toxicity of our next nonfood purchase as well. One of the more immediate concerns is the powerful off-gassing of PVC (polyvinyl chloride-referred to as ‘vinyl’), especially used for production of inexpensive shower curtains and liners.
Shower Curtain Caution – Can’t You Smell that Smell?
Virginia based Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) both found significant off-gassing of these tongue twisting toxins: phthalates, toluene, ethylbenzene, phenol, methyl isobutyl ketone, xylene, acetophenone and cumene from shower curtains bought at five major chain stores. There were up to 108 VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) leached into the air from one of the curtains that remained airborne for almost one month. The inhalation of these toxins (yup, it’s in that new shower curtain smell), over time, can cause anything from headaches and nausea to liver, central nervous system, respiratory and reproductive problems.
According to this statement by Barbara Spark, the indoor air program coordinator for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region, “The EPA does not regulate indoor air, period…we have not been given that authority by Congress.” It is up to you to do your own regulation. PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate) and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) are the attempted “answers” to toxic shower curtain (and other plastic) choices. These formulas are not perfect. They are made from petrochemicals (petroleum and natural gas) which is still a fossil fuel pollutant but they contain less VOC’s than PVC’s (say that 10x fast!). PEVA/EVA choices are chlorine-free yet they are still full of untested chemicals that make them only semi-green. But the absence of chlorine has been shown to considerably reduce harmful off-gassing.
Investing in a toxic-free shower curtain (or other plastic choice) can be essential to your and your family’s future health. If it must be plastic, avoid the word ‘vinyl’ unless it also shows a PVC-free, PEVA or EVA identification. It may be a few shillings more but definitely worth your safer health. Also, anti-microbial, antibacterial and/or anti-mildew are invitations for more unknown chemicals. There really is no need for these additives if folks would get off their butts and simply clean their shower curtains now and again. Other choices beyond PVC and PEVA/EVA are:
It is not rocket science these days to figure out how to stay one step ahead of the inconspicuous harmful plastics out there. All you have to do is smell the package even before looking at the label and chances are it is dangerous off-gassing. Do not succumb to rapid, impulse consumerism and take your time finding the safest, non-toxic choice.