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Bath enclosures are doors comprised of recyclable materials, such as aluminum, metal, or tempered glass. They replace shower curtains that have relatively short useful lives and are often made of toxic material such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Find it! Bath enclosures

Glass bath enclosures are available with a wide range of glass finishes, so you can choose something stylish for your personalized bathroom space. Anodized aluminum enclosure frames and heavy glass frameless systems are both available with several interesting metal finishes, like brushed or plated brass or stainless steel as well as anodized or powdercoated aluminum. If you need a little help with the DIY installation, check out the Bath Enclosure Manufacturers Association site.

Before you buy

If you're worried about breaking glass, don't be. Glass bath enclosures are made from tempered glass, which breaks into many small pieces if broken as opposed to the large shards of untempered glass. The federal government requires all replacement glass used in bath enclosures to be tempered glass or laminated safety glass.

Buying bath enclosures help you go green because...

  • They help cut down on the amount of waste from PVC, found in most shower curtains.

Regular vinyl shower curtains create polyvinyl chloride (PVC) waste when discarded, releasing potentially dangerous chemicals into the ground. Because they easily become moldy and are difficult to clean, many consumers replace them regularly, adding to the more than 200 million tons of trash that end up in landfills every year.[1]

If just a quarter of the nearly 116 million housing units in the United States threw away one standard-sized shower curtain per year, that would equal the equivalent of over 32,000 miles of PVC—enough to wrap around the earth more than once.[2] Bath enclosures, on the other hand, are made of recyclable materials and can last up to 50 years, substantially reducing the total amount of PVC waste.

PVC is a soft plastic used commonly in consumer products, posing severe environmental risks throughout the life cycle. The manufacture of PVC creates toxic pollution, threatening the health of both factory workers and the communities surrounding factory sites.

When disposed of, lead, phthalates, and other toxic additives from PVC can leach into the ground and drinking water supplies from landfills. PVC waste has contributed to rising lead levels in the environment, which have increased by 1,000 times in the past few hundred years.[3]

Incineration of PVC products produces dioxins and furans, which are among the most toxic environmental contaminants and are known carcinogens. Recycling is not an option with PVC plastic. PVC also contains health-threatening phthalates. In fact, 90 percent of phthalates in production are used to make PVC.[4]

Related health issues

Bath enclosures retain steam in the shower. Steam has been recommended by some doctors as a remedy to ease congestion, sore throats, and coughing brought on by allergies, asthma, and other afflictions. Bath enclosures may also prevent water from leaking out and damaging bathroom walls and flooring and may be less prone to fostering the growth of mildew and mold.

Glossary

  • phthalates: A group of chemicals used as plasticisers in PVC plastics that are known to be testicular toxins and can disrupt hormones.

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