With Christmas time here, those of you who put up Christmas trees have probably had your tree up and decorated for a hot minute by now; but could your tree be triggering your allergies?
What a lot of people don’t realize is that live trees make a fantastic breeding ground for mold. If you are someone who is sensitive to mold, this can progressively worsen your allergies during the weeks the tree is inside your home. Mold allergies tend to peak during the fall, but there also tends to be a second peak during the holidays...once most people have put their Christmas trees up.
Researchers in Connecticut have studied the growth of mold on a live Christmas tree inside someone’s home. Mold reproduce by releasing spores into the air, so the initial mold spore count was taken once the tree was brought inside and decorated. The mold spores were measured twelve times over a two week period, from December 24th to January 6th. This study found that during the first three days, the mold spore count was 800 spores per square meter; however, after the fourth day, the spore count began to quickly rise, hitting 5,000 spores per square meter by the last day. "Normal" spore counts are less than 1,000 spores per square meter!
Allergist and immunologist with St. Vincents Medical Center, Philip Hemmers, comments, “This mold spore count is five times above normal. These high levels have been correlated with allergic rhinitis and an increased rate of asthma symptoms and asthma-related hospitalization in other studies.” This simply means that if you notice feeling unwell during the holiday season, the source of your ills may be the Christmas tree!
The solution is rather simple: it’s recommended that people sensitive to mold only keep a live tree inside the home for just four to seven days. An artificial tree may be a much better option (who only keeps their tree up for less than a week?), but since artificial trees tend to be stored in the basement or attic where they’re susceptible to mold and dust, make sure you clean it before pulling it out for the season.
It’s also a good idea to remember that Christmas trees don’t pose a problem for everyone with allergies; in fact, most people don’t notice any issue with this holiday decoration. Allowing an air cleaner to run in the same room as the tree could potentially reduce mold exposure, though this has not been studied. For those who find that the tree’s scent irritates their nose and causes other symptoms, it may be best to simply avoid live trees altogether.
More research needs to be done on this topic for more conclusive evidence, as this study looked at only one tree in one home. It would be helpful to look at more homes, as well as more detail on the types of mold discovered and if these molds trigger allergies or not. So, don’t throw out your tree yet; as with anything else, just be aware of what you’re bringing into your home, and take care to notice if any new symptoms arise around the time you’ve welcomed your tree! It may be a good idea to utilize an air filter in the the room in which you put up your Christmas Tree to help ensure clean air.
The Habitation Investigation company provides mold testing and home inspections in the Central Ohio Columbus and home inspection in the Dayton Ohio areas, Hilliard, Powell, Pickerington, Pataskala, New Albany, Delaware, Gahanna, Westerville, Galloway, Grove City, Worthington, Dublin, Marysville, London, West Jefferson, Mechanicsburg and other cities surrounding Columbus, Ohio. The most/best reviewed home inspection company in Columbus Ohio is Habitation Investigation LLC. The website is: https://www.homeinspectionsinohio.com
Written by Kaitlyn Troth of Troth Media