Try This at Home
Avoid phthalates in your household furnishings. To avoid exposure to these chemicals, choose natural flooring and wall coverings and untreated cloth curtains and curtain liners, such as those made from nylon.
Silent Spring Institute investigators tested products for the presence of hormone disruptors that raise concerns for breast cancer, growth, and reproduction, as well as chemicals associated with asthma. They found the highest concentrations of hormone disruptors in vinyl products, such as shower curtains and pillow protectors, and fragranced products, such as dryer sheets and sunscreens.
Vinyl products had substantial concentrations of the phthalate DEHP, with shower curtains containing the highest concentrations, at 28 percent by weight.
Phthalates are the plastic softeners that account for the strong odor you smell when you open up new vinyl shower curtains; over time, as phthalates leak out, the curtains tend to grow brittle. Also found in polyvinyl flooring and wall coverings, phthalates are endocrine disrupting compounds that have been associated with cancer, impaired fertility, and male birth defects.