My new shower curtain: Should I toss it out?

Written By: Kathy Price-Robinson - Jun• 12•08

ShowercurtainI was so excited about this new shower curtain, which was a gift for my husband.

It was at about 35,000 feet, breathing airliner air, when I saw in a magazine this really neat shower curtain. The clear vinyl on the top would allow our dark and narrow shower stall some needed daylight. And the curtain is treated with “the world’s strongest industrial antimicrobial and germicidal inhibitor.”

And maybe that’s why, when it arrived in my mailbox, it had such a chemically odor that I had to leave it outside overnight.

Then I read today that a report released by the Virginia-based Center for Health, Environment & Justice found that vinyl shower curtains “sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart, among other major retailers, contained high concentrations of chemicals that are linked to liver damage as well as damage to the central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems.” Yikes! And I’m so fond of my central nervous system. Heck, I like all my systems. (Read about the study in the L.A. Times.)

So what do I now? I want to be an eco-consumer and I want to retain my good health. And I’m not even sure if this item is an offender. And our bathroom window is open all the time for natural ventilation. But If I suspected this item was not healthy, how would tossing it, and all its embodied carbon load, into the trash square with my green goals?

In other words, if you discovered you’d made a bad, unhealthy purchase, which do you think would be the greener action: keep it and make use of it, or get it out of your house, dump it in the landfill for future generations to deal with and try again?

Perhaps I shouldn’t have bought it. That might be the answer. But what do I do now? What would you do?

(Photo: Sky Mall)

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5 Comments

  1. jenni says:

    Someone on the news this morning suggested to “air” them out, outside for a couple days before bringing them inside. It releases some of the chemicals. (Well …releases the chemicals into the ozone and not your house. )
    I just got a new shower curtain last week. Sigh……

  2. lil_gaucha says:

    we just got one a couple months ago from Target for the spare bathroom — the fumes were so bad I nearly passed out when I went in to use the bathroom.
    We had to air it outside for three days before the odor was gone.
    Have you called the manufacturer? Maybe they could shed some light onto your particular product.

  3. Ann says:

    I voted Trash It but I would just return it for a refund with a note about the chemical smell being unacceptably strong.

  4. Pilgrim says:

    Just a side note, that study only tested a total of five shower curtains. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5057141&page=1
    But in general, if the off-gassing is bothering you send it back.

  5. dave says:

    Notice they say “link to” which is true about most chemicals as well as many natural materials depending on the situation. Use common sense, air it out, and use it unless it bothers you to the point you don’t want it. There are many other things in life that are more risky to your health then this.

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