Brits urged to replace surprising bathroom item which could be making you unwell

Clean and bright bathroom with table beside tub
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

A common household item could be putting your health at risk, without you even realising.

Kitchen and bathroom specialists Plumbnation have warned Brits that your shower curtain could be making you unwell. Specifically, shower curtains made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pose a risk of exposing you to harmful chemicals.

The PVC items are common in many thousands households due to their affordability and water-resistant properties. However PVC is a type of plastic that contains various additives to improve its flexibility and durability. When PVC is exposed to heat and moisture, it can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful chemicals into the air, reports WalesOnline.

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A spokesperson from PlumbNation said: "Switching to safer alternatives for shower curtains doesn't have to be expensive. Look for curtains made from materials like PEVA or EVA, which are free from harmful chemicals but still affordable. These materials offer water resistance similar to PVC without the associated health risks."

"Remember, investing in a safer option now can save you from potential health costs later on. It's also beneficial to improve bathroom ventilation by installing an exhaust fan or simply leaving the door slightly open after showers to reduce moisture buildup. This helps prevent mould and mildew growth, which can contribute to respiratory issues."

Blue shower curtain in the bathroom
Safer, alternative shower curtains are on the market -Credit:Getty Images

"If your budget allows, consider a small dehumidifier to keep the air dry and healthy. Regularly cleaning your bathroom, especially areas prone to dampness, can also make a big difference in maintaining a healthier home environment."

So when it comes to finding the perfect shower curtain which won't harm your health, or the environment, here's what you need to look out for.

Health effects

If a PVC shower curtain does become hot and damp, it can release substances such as phthalates, organotins, and dioxins. The release of these chemicals can lead to several health issues.

Prolonged exposure to VOCs and other harmful substances from PVC shower curtains can result in the likes of respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis; skin irritation and allergies; and hormone imbalances. .

One of the most harmful effects is the risk of being exposed to carcinogen. Long-term exposure to dioxins has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Environmental impact

Of course, it's not just about your own personal health, but how household impacts could be impacting the world around you. The production and disposal of PVC can contribute to environmental pollution.

During production, harmful chemicals are released into the air and water, while improper disposal can lead to these substances leaching into the soil and water. However it is possible to help minimise the risks associated with PVC shower curtains. Shoppers can opt for non-PVC materials such as polyester, cotton, or hemp.

Always make sure your bathroom is well-ventilated to reduce the build-up of harmful chemicals. You can also prevent other respiratory risks, like mould and mildew growth, by cleaning your shower curtain regularly. Or go one step further and consider replacing your shower curtain periodically, especially if it shows signs of wear and tear.