Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about whether acrylic tubs are toxic. I mean, who wants to soak in a hot bath full of icky chemicals, right? I totally get the concern.
My goal today is to give you the full lowdown on acrylic tub safety. I’ll walk you through what these tubs are made of, if they off-gas any toxic fumes, how they are tested, and tips for safe use. Grab a cup of tea and let’s dive in!
What is An Acrylic Bathtub?
First things first – what exactly are acrylic tubs? Well, acrylic is a type of plastic that is used to make bathtub shells. The acrylic is heated up into a liquid and then formed into sheets. Those sheets are then shaped and molded into the smooth, glossy tubs we know and love.
Acrylic sheets are combined with things like resin, pigments, and other additives to create the final tub product. The resin basically acts like a glue to bind the acrylic together. The pigments add color, sparkle, or a cool marbled effect. Pretty nifty if you ask me!
Compared to old cast iron or steel tubs, acrylic ones are lighter, easier to clean, and retain heat like a boss. Many homeowners dig their durability and affordable price tags too.
But even though they have perks, the whole plastic composition has some folks worried that harmful chemicals could be lurking within. Valid concern! Let’s break down what’s really inside…
Are the Chemicals in Acrylic Tubs Toxic?
When it comes to the safety of any product, it’s smart to look at what it’s made of. For acrylic tubs, the main chemical components are:
- Acrylic sheets – Generally considered inert and non-toxic.
- Resins – Can contain chemicals like styrene and methyl methacrylate. These have raised some health concerns.
- Pigments – Often metal-based, like iron oxide for reds. Considered low-risk.
- Additives – Things like thickeners, heat stabilizers, etc. The additives themselves are relatively safe.
So the worries mainly come from the resins and chemicals like styrene. I feel you – styrene sounds super sketchy! But here’s the good news…
Today’s leading tub brands use advanced manufacturing processes that keep hazardous chemical levels extremely low. We’re talking tiny trace amounts, if any.
And the latest research shows that VOC emissions (ie: off-gassing of chemicals like styrene) are minimal in quality acrylic bathtubs. Phew!
Still, it’s smart to buy from reputable companies just to be sure. More on that soon!
Read more: What Cleaners Are Safe for Acrylic Tubs?
Tub Certification and Testing for Toxicity
One way to get peace of mind about tub safety is to look for independent certification from standards organizations. This means the tubs passed rigorous toxicity testing.
In the US, the main standards are set by:
- IAPMO – International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials
- CSA – Canadian Standards Association
- ANSI – American National Standards Institute
Meeting certification standards means the tubs have been vetted for:
- Noise levels
- Heat retention
- And most importantly, chemical emissions
Reputable brands happily plaster these certifications all over their websites and product packaging. And they back it up by testing all materials and finished tubs at certified labs.
These emission tests look for hazardous levels of styrene, methyl methacrylate, and other volatile chemicals. The tubs have to fall under strict limits to pass.
So when you see that badge of approval, you can soak easily!
Tips for Safe Use of Acrylic Bathtubs
Okay, we’ve covered what acrylic tubs are made of and how they are rigorously tested. But what about safely using them in your own home? Here are my top tips:
- Clean regularly – Use mild soap and water to wash away any chemical residue from manufacturing or supplies. Avoid abrasives.
- Ventilate – Run fans or open windows when using hot water to prevent steam and moisture buildup.
- Consider tub refinishing – If you have an older tub, a fresh re-coat can seal in any cracks and create a new non-toxic barrier.
- Watch for reactions – If you notice any skin irritation, respiratory issues, or headaches, discontinue use and call your doctor. You may have a sensitivity.
- Buy certified tubs – I can’t stress this enough! Stick with reputable brands that adhere to major standards.
Follow those steps and you can confidently chill in your acrylic tub!
The Bottom Line on Acrylic Tub Safety
Whew, that was quite the deep dive! To recap:
- When made properly with today’s advanced manufacturing, acrylic tubs contain very low levels of concerning chemicals and super minimal emissions.
- Major standards organizations set strict guidelines for allowable VOC emissions during testing. Top brands certify all their tubs.
- Look for trusted certifications and buy from reputable companies. Avoid no-name brands.
- Take care of your tub through regular gentle cleaning and ventilation. Consider re-coating older tubs.
- If you have chemical sensitivities, talk to your doctor about any precautions with acrylic tubs.
- Focus on certified tubs from leading manufacturers and you can confidently soak in safety.
And there you have it – everything you need to know about the safety of acrylic bathtubs. Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m always happy to chat tubs. Enjoy that relaxing bubble bath!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all acrylic tubs contain styrene?
While styrene is used in some tub resins, most quality acrylic tub manufacturers have moved away from styrene-based formulas. Reputable brands use safer alternative resins. Always check for certifications.
How long do acrylic tubs last?
With proper care and maintenance, acrylic tubs can last 15-20 years or more. Avoid abrasive cleaners that can dull the glossy finish. Small scratches can be buffed out. Recertifying an older tub helps extend its life.
Is there a difference between acrylic and fiberglass tubs?
Acrylic and fiberglass are two different materials. Acrylic sheets provide a smooth, glossy finish. Fiberglass uses glass fibers set in plastic resin, giving it a rougher texture. Both offer durability, affordability, and custom molding.
Are acrylic tubs easy to clean?
Yes! Acrylic’s non-porous surface prevents buildup of dirt, soap scum, and bacteria. Mild soap and water are all you need for routine cleaning. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners which can damage the acrylic over time.
How do I know if I have an allergy to my acrylic tub?
Signs of an allergic reaction include skin irritation, itching, rashes, and bumps shortly after bathing. Respiratory issues like wheezing, coughing, or tightness may also indicate a sensitivity. See a doctor to identify causes and possible tub re-coating solutions.
William J. Bullock is a licensed plumber with over 15 years of experience installing and repairing bathtubs. He runs his own plumbing company in Greenville and serves residential and commercial clients. William is dedicated to providing honest, transparent advice to help homeowners make informed decisions about their bathroom renovations.
He has established expertise in selecting bathtubs, planning custom installations, diagnosing issues, and completing repairs. William aims to share practical tips and reliable recommendations based on extensive hands-on work. When he isn’t on a job site, William enjoys spending time with his family and volunteering at local community events. He takes pride in delivering quality service and enjoys helping people upgrade their homes.