18 June 2008

The bad science behind new fears on vinyl shower curtains

The Internet has been buzzing with blog posts and news articles about the dangers posed by new vinyl shower curtains -- that they release dangerous fumes when first opened. The reports suggest that "new shower curtain smell" may be a health hazard. Check out reports in U.S. News & World, WPTV in Florida, the Kansas City Star, AOL News, and the L.A. Times, among many others.

The original report was issued June 12 by the Virginia-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice.

The effect on retailers remains unclear. But as ammunition for those faced with fearful customers, you can't do better than this statement I got from Information and Public Affairs Director Julie Vallese at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

CPSC staff scientists did a cursory review of the study and found many problems with the testing methodology that call into question the credibility of the science used for the study. This is a case where a group is sounding a false and misleading alarm.

The CPSC mission is to protect the American public from the unreasonable risk of injury from consumer products. We take this responsibility very seriously and work to reduce the risk of death and injury from consumer products every day. In our busy lives there are so many things that we should be focused on for improving our personal safety -- a shower curtain is not one of them.

Many thanks to Julie for her response!

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