Tuesday, March 30, 2010

There's more to fear in your shower than Norman Bates

The shower was a scary place to be back in 1960 as women tried to shake off the image of Vera Miles being brutally stabbed to death on the big screen. But guess what, folks. It's even scarier today.

Why? Because of the toxins lurking within your plastic shower curtains. Toxins like DEHP and DINP, phthalates known to cause hormonal upsets in humans. Toxins that are also being considered as carcinogens by some researchers.

What you need to stay away from are the shower curtains made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). The off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can lead to a myriad of health problems today and in the future.

Toluene and ethylbenzene are two of the toxins posing a risk to you and your family every time one of you steps into the shower and pulls the curtain closed. It's like getting into the tub with Norman Bates, except death doesn't come within a few short minutes.

You know that smell that emerges from the package when you buy a new shower curtain? That smell should be a red flag for you -- the chemicals being released are just looking for a warm body to embrace. Don't let it be yours....or your child's!

What kind of damage can a new shower curtain cause? Possible damage to your liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Seriously. That's scary stuff. And then there's the reproductive toxicity that can lead to infertility. Less extreme physical reactions to the toxins include headaches, nausea, dizziness, coordination issues, eye and nose irritations, and sore throats. When people breathe in toluene on a regular basis, they are at risk for developing depression and fatigue, in addition to all the other symptoms listed.

Scarier still is the fact that the toxins emitted from the shower curtains don't just dissipate into the air when they're released. No, they find new places to hide within your home, like in your household dust. When inhaled, the chemically-laden dust can lead to breathing problems, like asthma, and skin problems, like dermatitis.

Research shows that over 100 VOCs seep into the air in your home when you put up a new plastic shower curtain. And they continue to do so for weeks. Toxic chemicals, such as cyclohexanone, ethylbenzene, methyl isobutyl ketone and phenol, may be the cause of some of the health problems your family may be dealing with.

A safer alternative is to buy a PVC-free curtain, either polyester or canvas, both of which will repel water without exposing your family to the dangers associated with PVC.

Indoor air pollution. Not a good thing. But you can do your part to eradicate it. For a listing of safe shower curtains, go to the CHEJ website.

Keeping our family safe from chemicals is as important as keeping our doors locked so the Norman Bates-types can't get in.

Your kids are counting on you. Don't let them down.

Keeping it green and healthy,


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