Canadian Plastics

Vinyl shower curtains are “toxic”: new report

Canadian Plastics   

Canadian Plastics

A new study released by the U.S.-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), Environmental Defence, an...

A new study released by the U.S.-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), Environmental Defence, and the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) says that polyvinyl chloride (PVC) shower curtains release nearly 100 toxic chemicals into the air.

The report, entitled “Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell,” claims that chemical off-gassing from vinyl shower curtains can contribute to respiratory irritation, damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys, nausea, headaches and loss of coordination.

“The new shower curtain smell may be toxic to your health,” said the report’s authors. “Vinyl shower curtains are contaminating the air we breathe and we need the Canadian government to take serious action on the use of PVC in consumer products.”

The report’s results were based on five PVC shower curtains available at mass retailers in the U.S. and Canada. Among the key findings, the groups said the shower curtains released 108 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air during a 28-day period.


But the Canadian Plastics Industry Association’s Vinyl Council of Canada has discounted the evidence put forth by the environmental groups, arguing that the groups are trying to “manipulate fears.”

The Vinyl Council says vinyl shower curtains are not much different from other consumer goods, and that the report is designed to provoke anxiety without citing any evidence of harm.

“Shower curtains are not harmful,” said VCC spokesperson Marion Axmith. “This report is simple scare-mongering. Vinyl shower curtains have been on the market for decades with no reported incidence of harm. This report is a blatant attempt to manipulate consumers and retailers into thinking that shower curtains pose a danger, when they don’t.”

Axmith argued that the “new shower curtain smell” comes from the ingredients added during production, but the odors soon fade away and present no risk to consumers.

“This report shouldn’t be taken seriously,” she said. “The vinyl industry, like others, stands by the safety of our products, and at the same time, the industry is constantly developing new product formulations that accommodate changing consumers’ needs and desires.”

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