Toxic Shower Curtains = Oops

Toxic Shower Curtains = Oops

Jonathan B.
Jul 3, 2008

The mother and baby got us suspicious... but apparently, not suspicious enough.

It turns out we've been tricked.

Regarding that post we wrote yesterday on toxic vinyl shower curtains? We should have done a bit more research before putting it up.

If we had, then we would have found the New York Times article that bennyrogers pointed out in the comments. We would have found the ABC News story that questioned the methodology. (That the most toxic shower curtain, and the one that just happened to be tested, came from environmental whipping boy Wal-Mart should have been a tip-off for us that this was not the most objective of studies. On the other hand, we did point out that they should have tested more curtains for a bigger sample.)

And while it's easy to write off stories like this as "scare science," there's a lot we can learn from this misstep—aside from the benefits of advanced Google searching. For example:


  • One of the reasons that it's hard to know what to do with the results of the study is because there are no federal standards for indoor air quality. So how much off-gassing is too much? It's impossible to say.

  • With all the finger-pointing at the methodology, no one's said that it's impossible for a shower curtain to emit the toxic chemicals the study did find. Should this stuff really be in household products?

  • There are bigger problems than shower curtains. There's nasty stuff in the air and water in many urban areas that affect everyone, not just those of us with cute new shower curtains from Wal-Mart.




We'll chalk this one up as a lesson learned. Did you get tricked, too?

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