Friday, October 17, 2008

A bargain ...

Recently I decided to wash the shower curtain. There were little spots of mildew forming and I'm pretty sure that mildew is evil stuff ... kind of like a science fiction creature that will eventually take over the planet if we don't stop it. So I carefully took down the curtain and tossed it into the washer. Later, when I went to transfer the wet laundry to the dryer, my shower curtain had disappeared. In it's place were these strange shreds of plastic. Who knew that the washer could destroy ... or rather ... eat a plastic shower curtain?

So ... a quick trip to my favorite dollar store and I had a new, lovely, inexpensive shower curtain ... a real bargain. Opening the package released that less than lovely plastic smell ... but still ... it looked beautiful, matching the decor perfectly.

Some time later, while browsing the Internet, an article on the toxic affects of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) shower curtains jumped out at me. Yep ... you read that right ... PVC shower curtains are toxic ... in a big way.

According to the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, PVC showers curtains are hazardous (you can read their report here: )

Here's a little of what they say about it:

• PVC shower curtains can release as many as 108 volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
into the air. VOCs are chemicals that easily turn into gases and contaminate our air.

• Some of these chemicals cause developmental damage as well as damage to the liver
and central nervous, respiratory, and reproductive systems. Some can cause cancer in
animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.

• The Environmental Protection Agency’s classifies 7 of the chemicals released as
hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

• Some chemicals were found in the air 28 days after a PVC shower curtain was
unwrapped and hung.

• 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 and
Washington State Indoor Air Quality Program, violating these guidelines for no less than
seven days.

• PVC shower curtains contain high levels of phthalates. Some phthalates have been
linked to reproductive problems including shorter pregnancy duration and premature
breast development in girls, sperm damage and impaired reproductive development in

• PVC shower curtains contain organotins, which can affect the central nervous system,
skin, liver, immune system and reproductive system.

• PVC shower curtains can contain one or more of these metals: lead, cadmium, mercury
and/or chromium.

While hanging that shower curtain, the smell gave me a headache. I dismissed it, thinking that perhaps it was allergies or my tendency to get migraines. Now I wonder ... perhaps it was toxic compounds attacking my system.

A shower curtain seems like such an innocent thing. So do plastic bags, utensils and containers. It is, however, another example of how small things can hurt us ... and the environment. It is important to pay attention, read labels and learn about the products that we deal with on a daily basis. Not doing so can have severe consequences.

I'll be heading to the store to buy a new shower curtain ... something made of cloth. It'll probably be a little more expensive than the plastic version ... but then again ... in terms of our health and that of the earth ... it'll be the true bargain.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

The Breast Cancer Site


  1. wow.. Who Knew.. I will be more careful when I go shower curtain shopping next time. Thanks for the post..

  2. Yikes!!!

    Thanks for that info!

    - Cesia.

  3. Often times, we jump into bargains without realizing that we are paying a higher price in some other ways.

    I cannot help but smile at your account of opting to a cheaper curtain because we all are like that at some time in our lives. We take the bait of a hook, line and sinker bargain.

    I'm glad you now opted for one made of cloth. It is washable and non-toxic. No hidden price to pay and you get rewards of a more lasting curtain.

  4. Thanks for the comment on my blog!

    Good to know about those shower curtains.

    I'm an environmentalist too.. go green :)

  5. Wow. I didn't realise PVC was quite THAT evil, although the smell has given me headaches for quite a while (along with other products containing VOCs, most recently the new carpet at my work). Will keep this in mind when I go to buy a new one.

    As an aside...the bit about you putting your wet laundry into the dryer jumped out at me because, well...aren't clothes dryers pretty nasty in terms of energy consumption? Is there not a more eco-friendly option for drying your laundry? I know line drying is not as popular in some countries as it is in Australia - or isn't possible due to climate or local regulations. We can only do what we can do, I suppose!

  6. Wow SF, that is heavy!

    As usual you manage to pull a rabbit out of the hat when it comes to these issues. But this rabbit is a real eye-opener. I had no idea, well, I never even thought about it, even though I do recognise the smell associated with opening new PVC products, it is nauseous.

    In this respect I am fully green, I have never had a shower curtain, PVC or otherwise, it's cheaper to run a squeegee over the floor, our bathrooms here are a little different to yours, we have a tile floor and a drain. No mildew, and the bathroom floor gets a mop with every shower.

    Also, here we are not so uptight about bathrooms and nudity as your average American household, so the necessity to hide behind curtain seems really weird.


  7. i recently read an article similar to this one. i think it was at the mother earth site.

    it really made me stop and think. i like you will be buying a cloth shower curtain when i have to replace mine.

    thanks for the post to blog!

  8. Thanks to all of you for your comments on shower curtains.

    Regarding dryers ... you're absolutely right, Glee ... dryers aren't the most environmentally friendly way to dry clothes. Two of my earlier posts deal with the subject ... here are the links:

    Thanks, again!

  9. I'll be shower curtain shopping soon!

  10. Oh so typical of me to do the same thing. The way the economy is we're all heading to the nearest dollar store.....with a baby though I'll be detouring and will be more careful! Thanks for the info!

  11. Great post and an excellent blog. I too am interested in environmental issues, although thus far have not written a post about any of it. I do have a link on my blog to a site called: that is part of a larger circle of eco-friendly sites. Check them out some time!


  12. Thanks for stopping by my blog and checking it out. No, Seattle failed miserably last night :(

    Take care!


  13. You would think a warning label would be mandatory in cases like these. Damage to the body is no joke and sounds like a serious lawsuit waiting to happen. I'm not into to suing so someone else can have at it lol.

    I love my dollar store clear shower curtain and the hideous broom I picked up with it :(..

    Also Argentum, its not the need to hide behind the curtain. Like mine is see through anyways heh. Its for containing the water so you don't soak the entire bathroom. Without a curtain my entire bathroom floor would be soaked every morning :)...

    Great post as always. Love your blog.

  14. Hi embee. Thanks for your help. I went back and did what you suggested. Thanks for checking into my blog. What did you think? Why don't you join my new group? bookwriters_and_readers@google

    See yo there.