Vinyl shower curtains sold at many major retail stores across the country have been linked to serious health problems because they emit toxic chemicals. Researchers at Center for Health, Environment, and Justice found that the curtains contained high concentrations of chemicals that are linked to liver damage as well as damage to the central nervous, respiratory, and reproductive systems.
The researchers tested the chemical composition of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, plastic shower curtains bought from Bed Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Sears, Target, and Wal-Mart. The study found that PVC shower curtains contained high concentrations of phthalates and varying concentrations of organotins. One of the curtains tested released measurable quantities of as many as 108 volatile organic compounds into the air, some of which persisted for nearly a month.
Seven of these chemicals — toluene, ethylbenzene, phenol, methyl isobutyl ketone, xylene, acetophenone and cumene — have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as hazardous air pollutants.
The Center for Health, Environment, and Justice has notified 19 major retailers of their findings and encouraged them to stop selling the PVC shower curtains.