Toxic shower curtain warning

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American scientists are warning that the humble plastic shower curtain is responsible for releasing more than 100 toxic chemicals into homes, including some suspected of causing cancer or having gender-bending effects.

A report from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice calls for PVC curtains to be banned, a call echoed by Greenpeace. Several stores have already phased them out.

The research tested five curtains over 28 days and found 108 volatile organic compounds which, the study says, can irritate the eyes, ears and throat and damage the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Some, it adds, "are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans".

All the curtains were also found to contain phthalates which have been linked to premature breast development in girls, and feminisation effects in baby boys.