Matt Hickman posted a great response to the question of why standard PVC shower curtains are so dangerous to our health and environment on the Mother Nature Network yesterday. Here is an excerpt:
"...PVC vinyl shower curtains... contain the infamous and ubiquitous chemical plasticizer, phthalates, and a slew of other toxic chemicals that can easily off-gas in a hot ‘n’ steamy bathroom and pollute the air in your home. In various studies, phthalates have been linked to a myriad of health concerns including genital deformation, abnormal breast development,lowered IQs and ADHD in boys; shortened pregnancies in expectant mothers; and damage to the liver, kidney and reproductive system."
On recyclability he wrote:
"...PVC, a compound of chlorine and petroleum products, is the hardest to recycle of all the plastics and the production of it is highly polluting and releases carcinogenic dioxins into the air."
On safer alternatives he wrote:
"Mercifully, there are numerous alternatives to vinyl shower curtains made from materials like hemp, organic or non-organic cotton, and non-off-gassing EVA plastic, but be warned, you’ll probably have to pay a bit more. But as evidenced above, I think you’d agree it’s worth it. While perfectly acceptable, non-vinyl shower curtains can be found at major retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond and Target, I’m a huge fan of Grain’s Ty Shower Curtain that’s made from recyclable, long lasting and breathable — less mold and mildew! — HDPE (#2 plastic). For a couple bucks more, Grain also offers a Ty DIY Edition that comes with a permanent marker for shower curtain doodling."