The Toxic Shower Curtain

The Toxic Shower Curtain

My children’s shower inspired me to write today’s  blog. They have a white plastic shower curtain. Mold is beginning to form on the bottom of it. Yes, I know being The Green Lady that I can wash it in the washing machine with vinegar, but for me sometimes its just easier to replace it.

Vinyl shower curtains where sold by the major retailers across the country until about 2008. The major retailers have decided to drop the PVC, plastic shower curtain because they emit toxic chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems. 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.

Researchers from  a Virginia based Center for Health, Environment & Justice and researches from Environmental Health Advocate for the Washington Toxics Coalition tested the chemical composition. The study by the Virginia based Center found that the PVC shower curtains contained high concentrations of phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive effects, and varying concentrations of organotins, which are compounds based on tin and hydrocarbons.

Phthalates and organotins, which are not chemically bonded to the shower curtain, are often added to soften or otherwise enhance the curtain. These additives evaporate or cling to household dust more easily than the chemicals in the curtains themselves.

” Taking a shower shouldn’t be harmful to your health. It is inexcusable that toxic shower curtains are being sold to consumers, especially when cost-effective alternatives are available.” said Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, Environmental Health Advocate for the Washington Toxics Coalition. “Consumers, especially parents, shouldn’t have to worry that a product they bring into their home will harm their children.”

Not only does these chemicals harm human health, but they also harm wildlife and have been shown to be present in Pugent Sound, some at high levels. When chemicals off-gas they either get flushed down the drains or attach to dust particles, they eventually make there way into our sounds.

A lot of the major retailers have phased out curtains that contain PVC, but they still can be found in less popular stores.  Manufacturers are not required to label shower curtains, but some  do list “PVC” or “Vinyl” on the packaging.

Consumers should avoid vinyl shower curtains and instead choose curtains made of cotton, polyester, or nylon. 

“Be Aware Of  PVC”


  1. Wow! I didn’t know this! That is incredible. I wonder how many items we use within our day that are harmful to us and we just haven’t seen the research results yet. Thanks for sharing

    • cathy says:

      The smell alway bothered me, I wanted to get to bottom of this. The chemicals cause huge health risks, it isn’t worth the few dollars for the shower curtain.

  2. Cathy – this is something I had never considered before. Will have to get new curtains for our home too. Thank you for this!

  3. Pamela says:

    So, this is why my new shower curtain has to “air” outside until the smells calm down and I could actually bring it in the house. The chemicals bother my asthma/breathing and I didn’t get how or why the darn things could stink so badly. Thanks for explaining.

    • cathy says:

      I’m debating if it’s worth for me to get a new one or just wash the old one in vinegar in the washing machine? Be careful!

  4. Andy says:

    Hello Cathy.

    WoW! I had no idea!

    My wife used to put the shower curtains in the washing machine when they got dirty, but they never came out whole (lol) so she took to hand scrubbing them instead. I wasn’t too happy about this because it doesn’t cost much to replace them. I had no clue they could be so harmful. Whenever we’ve had new ones, some of them did have smells & made the bathroom smell funky. We’ll definitely have to pay more attention when we replace the next lot.

    Invaluable information Cathy.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • cathy says:

      Beware! I just went into our linen closet because I knew I had a new shower curtain in stock. When I bought it at one of the discount stores I wasn’t paying attention when I was buying it whether it was “PVC” or “EVA”, Ethylene vinyl acetate. Package says, heavy duty with magnetic hem mildrew resistant. Made in China. The EPA is working on regulations, stating that manufactures can’t use those harmful chemicals. After reading my blog what would you do with the new shower curtain in stock?

  5. Whoa! This is scary stuff right here! I will be very careful when I replace our shower curtain and let my children know about these dangers, too. I’d hate to see them or my little granddaughter be negatively affected.

    Thanks for sharing this important information.


    • cathy says:

      Extremely scary, that’s why I write these kind of blogs. i think people should be aware of their surroundings in the “HOME.”

  6. Bongo says:

    This is good info….time for a new shower curtain…I hate the smell when i open it..I have asthma and it always triggers I know why….Thanks…As always…XOXOXO

  7. Wow, Cathy:

    Need a new shower curtain soon myself. Glad you brought this to my attention. Now I know what to and what not to look for.



    • cathy says:

      I’m not so sure that vinyl is going to be my next choice? Yes, it keeps the water out but causes other issues like: mold and mildrew. I am going to look into the alternatives.

  8. Jan says:

    Wow, I had no clue. I will be letting my family know, I have glass doors in this home, which are a pain too, trying to get the rails clean to my standards. I’ve been dealing with doors for about 15 years now. Those vinyl curtains always stink to high heaven when opened….Thank you for the info.

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