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PVC Shower Curtains = Bad For Your Health

Air pollution affects our health, but most of us think about the air outside being polluted - not the air in our homes. There are many silent culprits polluting our air from odorless radon to stinky off-gassing PVCs (polyvinyl chloride). It seems that PVCs are in just about everything from household items like vinyl flooring, vinyl shower curtains, and children’s toys to beauty products like perfumes, nail polish, and lotions. Plus PVC is very difficult to recycle and never breaks down.

Since many "plastic" shower curtains are made from PVC which off-gasses plasticizers that are potential hormone disruptors. Plus, they are easier to throw away than to clean once they become covered with mildew. These plastic/PVC shower curtains never breakdown and they are difficult to recycle. On so many levels, plastic shower curtains are just plain bad news.

A simple way to improve the quality of air in your house is to replace vinyl shower curtains with cloth ones made of organic cotton or hemp. Of course you should use a nylon liner in stead of a plastic one. You can easily wash both a cloth shower curtain and the nylon liner, so they will be around in your bathroom for a long time, rather than clogging up landfills. Plus hemp is naturally mildew resistant and sturdy, there's a reason sailors made ropes out of the fiber. Some hemp curtains are so thick, they don't even require a liner!

The only downside that I can see is that hemp curtains only come in "natural" and "white" - not so fashionable. Since the green revolution has begun, I think we will start seeing fun colors in these shower curtains.

And you, what kind of shower curtain do you have? Let me know in the comments section below.

SpicerK SpicerK 10 years
I KNOW I have PVC shower curtains. When I got them they had that awful smell. When I read your blog entry I was like yep that's what I have. I'm online right now looking for Hemp shower curtains. They're pretty expensive but it's worth it. I saw some guy post he saw something PVC free at Ikea I will give it a looksy. Thanx ~SpicerK
pinupsweetheart pinupsweetheart 10 years
Wow. That really makes you think. I think I have a clear plastic one in my bathroom with a fabric cover. But this makes me more aware when I need to purchase a new one for my apartment.
nikolem2 nikolem2 10 years
I came across something online (or in print?) recently saying that IKEA has a line of shower curtains/liners that are PVC-free. As nice as it may be to switch to cloth (I've also considered that option), it can be difficult depending on how well moisture leaves your bathroom and how many showers are taken and how often in your house. If the curtain isn't able to dry-out completely, it'll just get gross and moldy. Anyway, thought I'd mention the IKEA thing. I plan to get one of those. Here's another tip. I haven't tried this yet, but apparantly vinyl curtains are also washable- just pop them in the washing machine and hang to dry. That way you don't need to get rid of them or replace them as often (more PVC=bad). Another thing that I do, if I buy a new/replacment one, is to hang it outside or in the basement for a few days to let the chemical smell drift off a bit. Those chemicals you smell when you open a new curtain's package are bad for you, so limiting that exposure is a good idea.
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