Common bathroom item may be putting your health at risk, experts warn

Clean and bright bathroom with table beside tub
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Experts have sounded the alarm over a very common bathroom item that could be jeopardising your health.

Specialists from Plumbnation, who are experts in bathroom and kitchen fittings, have highlighted that your shower curtains might be causing unseen harmful effects.

They specifically warn against shower curtains made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which many homes use due to their low cost and water-repelling qualities, reports Gloucestershire Live.

PVC is a type of plastic enhanced with various additives for better flexibility and strength. When subjected to heat and humidity, PVC can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxic substances into the atmosphere.

A representative from PlumbNation advised: "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.

"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.

Harmful chemicals

If a PVC shower curtain does heat up and get wet, it can release substances such as phthalates, organotins, and dioxins, which can be bad news for health.

Health impacts

The release of these chemicals can lead to numerous health problems. Extended exposure to VOCs and other noxious substances from PVC shower curtains can result in conditions like respiratory problems including asthma and bronchitis, skin irritation and allergies, and hormone imbalances.

One of the most harmful impacts is the risk of being exposed to known carcinogens. Long-term exposure to dioxins has been associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Environmental effects

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

During manufacture, toxic chemicals are emitted into the air and water, while improper disposal can result in these substances leaching into soil and water.

However, there are ways to mitigate the risks associated with PVC shower curtains. Consumers can choose non-PVC materials such as polyester, cotton, or hemp.

It's crucial to ensure your bathroom is well-ventilated to minimise the accumulation of harmful chemicals. Regular cleaning of your shower curtain can also prevent other respiratory hazards, like mould and mildew growth.

For added safety, consider replacing your shower curtain from time to time, particularly if it shows signs of wear and tear.

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