Can a shower curtain be bad for your health?
It can if it contains phthalates.
Phthalates are just some of over 800 chemicals that are labeled as endocrine disruptors. These chemicals are toxic for a number of reasons. They may mimic estrogen, androgen or thyroid hormones and cause your body to respond to them inappropriately. Or they may block, stimulate or inhibit these hormones. By interfering in your hormone system, there is growing evidence that these chemicals are responsible for a wide range of health problems.
Endocrine disruptors are found in many products. Sandwich bags, air fresheners, dryer sheets, perfumes, sunscreens, cleaning products, laundry detergents, flame retardants, pesticides, cosmetics, shampoo, conditioners and vinyl shower curtains can all be suspect.
One widely known endocrine disruptor is bisphenol-A or BPA. This chemical is found in plastics and is the reason many people choose glass water bottles over plastic.
In February 2013, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) released a new report: State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 2012. According to this study, endocrine disruptors are linked to high rates of endocrine-related cancers, such as breast, ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid cancers; low semen quality; genital malfunctions such as non-descended testes; adverse pregnancy outcomes; obesity; and Type 2 diabetes.
But the effects don’t stop with humans. The report also finds reproductive defects, infertility and antler malformations in some Alaskan deer populations and population decline in some species of otters and sea lions.
Clearly, it’s a good idea to minimize your exposure to these chemicals.