Over 100 Chemicals Released Into the Air From PVC Shower Curtains Sold at Major Retail Outlets, According to Latest Laboratory Results

Thursday, June 12, 2008 General News
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An urgent call is issued for Wal-Mart and other retailers to immediately phase out PVC shower curtains & for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall PVC shower curtains from store shelves

FALLS CHURCH, Va., June 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Results from a two-phase study released today by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing environmental health harms caused by chemical threats, show that shower curtains made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic contain many harmful chemicals including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates and organotins; these PVC shower curtains are potentially toxic to the health of consumers. Vinyl shower curtains and shower curtain liners release chemicals into the home that are most easily identified by that "new shower curtain smell" and are routinely sold at major retail outlets.* Results of this study show that PVC shower curtains can release toxic chemicals into the air that may lead to adverse health effects including respiratory irritation, central nervous system, liver and kidney damage, nausea, headaches and loss of coordination. The Work Group for Safe Markets is a co-sponsor of this report.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080609/DC24636 )

Across the nation many consumer and environmental health organizations join CHEJ and other experts in calling for safeguards to prevent harm from exposure to toxic PVC shower curtains. For a list of state events and/or to read the full report, Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain's Chemical Smell -- www.chej.org/showercurtainreport.

Key Report Findings

"The release of so many volatile organic compounds, many of which are toxic, raises serious questions about the risks PVC shower curtains pose to families, especially young children exposed to these vapors. Every effort should be made to eliminate PVC shower curtains from homes and to replace them with safer alternatives," said CHEJ Science Director and report co-author, Stephen Lester. On June 10th, CHEJ's Science Director Stephen Lester testified at the U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee hearing on phthalates and bisphenol A about the growing market movement away from phthalates in consumer products such as PVC shower curtains.

CHEJ is the first non-governmental organization (NGO) to conduct a study of this type on PVC shower curtains. These test results mirror and expand upon those first conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 1991, the EPA studied emissions of a broad range of VOCs found in a new PVC shower curtain, detecting decane, a VOC also found in CHEJ's study. In 2002, the EPA focused its study on emissions of four chemicals -- toluene, phenol, ethylbenzene and methyl isolbutyl ketone (MIBK) -- from a PVC shower curtain. The results found elevated levels of the chemicals evident beyond one month. The concentrations of these four chemicals were among the five highest found in CHEJ's current results. PVC is the second largest commodity plastic in production in the world today; with nearly 15 billion pounds being produced annually in the U.S.

"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. Wal-Mart and other retailers need to phase out these toxic chemicals. As Congress is considering a variety of chemical policy reforms, it must address the reality that no legal authority currently exists to enable the federal government to regulate consumer products which release toxic chemicals into the air inside our homes -- air our children breathe every day," said CHEJ founder and Exec

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