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Abstracts: ISEE 20th Annual Conference, Pasadena, California, October 12–16, 2008: Contributed Abstracts

Concentrations of Toxic Chemicals in PVC Shower Curtains

Camann, D E*; Zuniga, M M*; Yau, A Y*; Lester, S; Schade, M

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doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000339890.48632.e1
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Concentrations of diester phthalates and organotins were determined in five shower curtains which are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and widely used in USA. The tested curtains and retailer where purchased were: Premium Weight Vinyl Shower Curtain Liner, Bed Bath and Beyond (BB&B); Martha Stewart Everyday Vinyl Shower Curtain, Bath Bliss, K Mart; Whole Home Deluxe Vinyl Stall Liner, Sears; Contemporary Home Shower Curtain, Metro Blocks, Target; HomeTrends Kids Vinyl Shower Curtain, Under the Sea, Wal-Mart. After purchase, representative portions of each shower curtain were cut into small pieces, and combined as 1 g aliquots for analysis. Chlorine concentrations determined in bomb combustates by ion chromatography ranged from 30% to 35% by weight, demonstrating that each curtain was made from PVC. Diester phthalates were extracted by soaking and sonication with hexane and determined by GC/MS. Organotins were extracted by sonication in acidified hexane, cleaned with Florisil/silica gel, derivatized with n-pentylmagnesium bromide, and determined by GC/MS selected ion monitoring.


Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) comprised 16% to 25% by weight of three of the shower curtains, while diisononyl phthalate (DINP) comprised 38–39% of the other curtains. All five curtains contained both DEHP and DINP: Wal-Mart (25% DEHP, 0.10% DINP), BB&B (24%, 1.3%), Target (16%, 0.11%), Sears (4.8%, 39%), K Mart (0.14%, 39%). Dibutyl tin (0.8–3.5 ppm) and monobutyl tin (0.1–0.4 ppm) were found in three of the curtains. Only the curtain from Wal-Mart was tested for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by leaching into heated water, purge and trap, and GC/MS analysis; it contained much toluene (> 2.5 ppm), 2-butanone (∼ 5 ppm), and 4-methyl-2-butanone (MIBK) (∼ 2 ppm).


It is anticipated that these phthalates, organotins, and VOCs are constantly emitted into the air surrounding the shower curtain, since they are not chemically bound to the PVC. Emissions from a PVC shower curtain will be evaluated in a subsequent dynamic chamber study.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.