Dr. Avnish Jolly, 15th June:As part of campaign against polyvinyl chloride, a Virginia-based environmental advocacy group last week called on manufacturers and retailers to phase out its use in shower curtains. To support its case, the group, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, released the results of a study indicating that PVC- containing shower curtains are capable of emitting scores of volatile organic compounds, as well as phthalates, lead, and other potentially harmful materials, into people’s bathrooms.
In the previous study, conducted by Environmental Protection Agency researchers, also found that plastic shower curtains can emit toxic compounds into the air. Still debate among scientists about just how serious the health effects are that have been associated with exposure to some of the chemicals highlighted as dangerous. However, the group, which has particularly strong concerns about the environmental and health toll in communities with factories that manufacture PVC, urges consumers to avoid using PVC shower curtains, as well as many other PVC products, particularly those that are flexible. In the past, U.S. News has written about other problematic chemicals in certain plastics, such as phthalates and bisphenol A. Here’s how you can avoid the former, as well as the latter.
Manufacturers are not required to label shower curtains, but some do list “PVC” or “vinyl” on the packaging in the International market. Numerous retailers sell shower curtains–primarily cotton or hemp–that are free of PVC. Without good ventilation, however, mildew can be a problem with cotton and hemp products.