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The Vinyl Institute, Peeking Through the Shower Curtain Scare

Dr. Joseph Schwarcz Dismisses PVC Shower Curtain Scare


By —— Bio and Archives--July 15, 2008

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ARLINGTON, VA, JULY 14, 2008…Dr. Joseph Schwarcz criticized the research methodology as well the claims made in “Volatile Vinyl,” the report from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) that alleges vinyl shower curtains are toxic and harmful.  His analysis of the study, “Peeking Through the Shower Curtain Scare,” appeared in the June 28th issue of “The Montreal Gazette.”

Noting the CHEJ study claimed vinyl shower curtains can release up to 108 volatile organic chemicals, Schwarcz stated, “A cup of coffee will release more than 1,000 volatiles….The argument, as put forward by CHEJ, is that some of the chemicals released by a shower curtain are classified as hazardous air pollutants by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The same can be said about compounds such as furfural, styrene and caffeic acid found in coffee.  Yet we do not talk about closing coffee shops, or protecting people from second-hand coffee aroma.” 

Continuing, Dr. Schwarcz stated the CHEJ did not test to see if the chemicals released from shower curtains are absorbed into the body, or examine how these chemicals may be distributed, metabolized, or excreted if they are absorbed, or run controls to determine what chemicals are present in ambient air. 

The 108 chemicals cited by the CHEJ are, according to Schwarcz, “Mostly compounds released from the dyes used to print the coloured designs on the curtains.  These compounds would therefore also be released from other plastics, such as polyester or ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) that CHEJ is touting as a replacement for PVC.” 

Dr. Schwarcz is director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society.  He has hosted the television program “Science to Go” on the Discovery Channel, and has written and published six books that are sold around the world.  His criticism of “Volatile Vinyl” echoes similar criticism of CHEJ’s claims by ABC News, “The New York Times,” The Canadian Press, The Post Chronicle, “The Sacramento Bee,” and other media outlets. 

Schwarcz summarized his article by stating, “People have become so scared of dying they forget about living.  And if worrying about trace amounts of chemicals being released from shower curtains makes news, then living today is pretty good.” 

Greg Bocchi, President of The Vinyl Institute, said, “Dr. Schwarcz’ comments illustrate that science as well as nationally and internationally renowned media is on our side with respect to the ludicrous claims in the CHEJ study.  Vinyl shower curtains are safe, as well as durable, easy to clean, economical, and versatile in their appearance.  The new shower curtain smell, cited as dangerous in the study, soon dissipates, with absolutely no immediate or long-term health effects for consumers.”

The Vinyl Institute represents the nation’s leading manufacturers involved in the production of vinyl plastic, and promotes the value of vinyl to society.   

Link to Joseph Schwarcz’ article

For more information, contact:        Jeffrey B. Palmer Director of Marketing & Communications The Vinyl Institute (703) 741-5669 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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