Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain's Chemical Smell

Some five brands of shower curtains, purchased from major retailers in the US like Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Sears, were recently tested for levels of volatile chemicals. As many as 108 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found to off-gas after the curtains were hung-up.

Among the 108 VOCs, some are considered a human health concern under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, such as, toluene, cyclohexanone, methyl isobutyl ketone, phenol, and ethylbenzene. But the Canadian government has not regulated them in products!

Why are VOCs a human health concern? "The brain is a major target for VOCs, causing everything from headache and loss of concentration to learning disabilities in children whose mothers were exposed before their birth, as shown in a recent Canadian study. Since there are safe alternatives to vinyl shower curtains, such exposures should always be avoided," said David O. Carpenter, M.D., of the Institute for Health & the Environment at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Canada's chemical policies are failing to protect families from toxic chemicals, both sold on the market and released in our homes. Our chemical regulatory system is old, outdated, and simply does not work to protect people and the environment. PVC in shower curtains is one of many examples of the need to reform federal law to protect consumers, communities, and workers.

The federal government to needs to take action to ban vinyl shower curtains through the Hazardous Products Act.

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