About The Alliance
Our Principles
We believe that all Maine people have a right to a healthy environment where we live, work and play.
We envision a future free of exposure to harmful chemicals in our air, water or food.
We want our children to grow up healthy with every opportunity to thrive.
We seek to build a healthy economy that provides good jobs producing clean products and services.
We are proud of all that’s been accomplished so far toward a clean and healthy Maine.


This report is a collaborative effort of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, a campaign dedicated to protecting American families from toxic chemicals. The report incorporates a significant body of peer-reviewed science on chemicals and health. Download the report.


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CONTACT: Amanda Sears, 207-939-7333

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New Report Reveals Laboratory Evidence of More Than 100 Chemicals Released From PVC Shower Curtains Sold at Major Retail Outlets
As many as 100 toxic chemicals associated with adverse health effects are released into the air from PVC vinyl shower curtains. These chemicals make up that “new shower curtain smell” unique to PVC vinyl shower curtains and shower curtain liners, according to “Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell,” a new study released today.

PVC shower curtains contain many harmful chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates and organotins. Toxic chemical off-gassing from PVC shower curtains may contribute to respiratory irritation, damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidney, nausea, headaches and loss of coordination. 

“This report underscores the need for new policies that protect our families by ensuring the products on store shelves are safe,” said Amanda Sears, Associate Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, a Maine based public health organization.  “It is unacceptable that toxic chemicals keep turning up in products like shower curtains, baby bottles, and children’s toys.  We need to fix the broken system to ensure unnecessary toxic chemicals are no longer used in consumer products.”

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) purchased PVC shower curtains at Bed Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart to use as laboratory samples. Key findings include:
  • 108 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were released into the air from a shower curtain over a twenty-eight day period;
  • The level of Total VOCs measured was over 16 times greater than the recommended guidelines for indoor air quality established by the U.S. Green Building Council;
  • The vinyl curtains off-gassed above the recommended level for seven days;
  • All five curtains tested in phase one contained phthalates DEHP and DINP, chemicals banned in children’s toys in California, Washington, and the European Union;
  • Seven of the chemicals found are classified as hazardous air pollutants by the EPA under the Clean Air Act.

CHEJ is not the first to test PVC shower curtains. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted a study of PVC shower curtains in 2002, which found elevated levels of four chemicals that were found in the CHEJ study as well: toluene, phenol, ethylbenzene and methyl isolbutyl ketone.

“Six years after the EPA found that PVC shower curtains continue to release toxic chemicals into the air we breathe for a month or longer, our study shows that nothing has changed. Something must be done to protect consumers from any potential harm these toxic chemicals cause,” said Lois Gibbs, CHEJ founder and Executive Director.

Bed Bath and Beyond, JC Penney, Sears/Kmart, Macys, and Target have all developed plans to offer more PVC-free shower curtains, but not all have set 100 percent PVC-free phase out plans and goals.  The nations largest retailer, Wal-Mart has not announced a plan to phase out PVC shower curtains.
The “Volatile Vinyl” report contains the following recommendations to protect consumers, workers, and communities from PVC:

The Federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is 30 years old and must be updated to regulate consumer products that contribute to indoor air pollution and cause health harm.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission should immediately recall all PVC shower curtains from store shelves.

Manufactures and retailers should switch to safer products such as cotton shower curtains.

Government at all levels should act quickly to ban the use of PVC in shower curtains.

Consumers should avoid purchasing shower curtains made with PVC, and should not buy shower curtains that are not labeled with their content. 

The “Volatile Vinyl” report is sponsored by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice and the Work Group for Safe Markets.

Posted on 6/12/2008 (Archive on 7/3/2008)


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