Mother Earth Living

It's Curtains for PVC: Keep PVC Out of Your Shower

A hot shower is cleansing and refreshing. Using a conventional polyvinyl chloride (PVC) shower curtain is not.
By Misty McNally
November/December 2008
Add to My MSN

These shower curtain and hand-crocheted rings are made with certified organic hemp
Photo Courtesy of Rawganique

Content Tools

Related Content

3 Reasons to Legalize Hemp

Here are three great reasons that hemp cultivation should be legal in the United States: food, healt...

Hemp History Week: Hemp for Victory!

Celebrate hemp, one of Mother Nature's most useful plants, during Hemp History Week. This versatile,...

Organic Cotton Shower Curtains from Amy Butler, VivaTerra and West Elm

Brighten up your bathroom with lively organic cotton shower curtains from Amy Butler, VivaTerra and ...

Journey Toward Healthy Hair: The Healing Seed

Not too long ago I discovered The Healing Seed, a new company that offers virgin organic hempseed oi...

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) has issued warnings about the long-term effects of exposure to “the poison plastic,” and strongly urges retailers to remove all vinyl shower curtains from their shelves. (Check out their fun video for more information at The group also urged the Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue a formal recall of PVC shower curtains as a public health risk.

While there have been no deaths or illnesses directly attributed to vinyl shower curtains, PVC exposure presents known risks. The phthalates (plastic softeners) in PVC have been linked to cancers and reproductive diseases, especially among factory workers. Phthalates also offgas potentially harmful substances, evident in that new-vinyl shower curtain smell. Finally, PVC can’t be readily recycled and gives off hazardous fumes if incinerated.

The good news? Several terrific cloth options are healthier and more eco-friendly. Natural fibers such as cotton, linen and hemp don’t offgas and are biodegradable. If mildew is an issue in your home, recyclable, nonhazardous nylon or polyester may be an option.

Hemp is rapidly renewable, though hemp fiber sold in the United States is imported because of agricultural restrictions (the plant is related to the marijuana plant). It’s antimicrobial, resistant to fading and durable. Find hemp grown and processed without pesticides and chemicals.

(877) 729-4367 

Linen is derived from the flax plant. For shower curtains, it’s often left undyed, and the naturally crinkly quality can be an attractive textural feature.

(877) 989-6321

Cotton is natural, renewable and biodegradable, but most is farmed with intensive reliance on pesticides and heavy water use. Choose certified organic cotton, or look for fiber grown without pesticides. Avoid fabric bleached with chlorine or dyed with synthetics.

(877) 251-4905

A vinyl shower curtain releases 108 different volatile organic compounds into the air over 28 days. —Center for Health, Environment and Justice

Post a comment below.


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.