Avoid Christmas Tree Syndrome
Don’t let dusty holiday decor ruin your festive celebrations
Each year, millions of Americans use the long Thanksgiving weekend to pull out their stored Christmas decorations and start decorating their homes for the festive season. The problem is that these items often collect mold and dust over the months they sit in storage. This debris can cause annoying allergic reactions for many people, especially those with respiratory problems. Below, we discuss some of these reactions, including Christmas Tree Syndrome, and how to avoid them. The onset of the year’s final months marks the beginning of the holiday season. This is the time for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, and Día de Los Reyes. For many families, this is also a busy time of cleaning up messes and preparing for guests. However, have you ever thought about ensuring that the air in your home is safe for your family and guests to breathe?
As the weather gets colder, we tend to spend more time inside – about 90% of our time, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This extra time spent indoors means we must be more aware of the air we breathe every day. Concentrations of some pollutants can be 2 to 5 times higher inside than the air we breathe outdoors. Throw in Christmas trees, dusty decor, and scented candles, and you have the perfect recipe for allergic and asthmatic reactions.
One of the most common illnesses during this time is Christmas Tree Syndrome. However, by taking the proper steps to avoid it, you can increase the quality of the air in your home and keep your family and your guests safe and healthy over the holidays.
What is Christmas Tree Syndrome?
Christmas Tree Syndrome can be an issue whether your family decorates a freshly cut tree each year or reuses an artificial tree. Live trees are more likely to trigger an allergic reaction because of mold spores, pine oils, and other naturally occurring allergens that can collect on the tree during its life. People with seasonal allergies are especially prone to Christmas Tree Syndrome caused by live trees. However, even artificial trees can still be problematic, harboring dust and mold spores from being stored for the past 11 months.
Symptoms of this illness include itchy eyes, nose, and throat, as well as headaches, sneezing, wheezing, and nosebleeds.
Fortunately, there are practical steps you can take to address these issues:
For Live Trees:
- Shake out the tree with a leaf blower to remove pollen
- Wash off the tree’s trunk using bleach and water to kill the mold (this will not kill your tree!) - use a solution of 20 parts warm water to 1 part bleach.
- Use gloves and thick, long sleeves to avoid touching sap and getting pricked by the needles.
- Spray the tree with a fungicide spray from your local garden center
For Artificial Trees:
- Wipe down your artificial tree
- Utilize compressed air cleaners to blast dust off the tree
- Use a high-performance air purifier
- Reduce the overall time of exposure by taking down the tree earlier
If you’re already dealing with a case of Christmas Tree Syndrome, here are a few recommendations to reduce your symptoms.
- Use antibacterial soap to clean the area
- Cover the irritated area with unscented lotion
- In mild cases, you might also consider utilizing antihistamine pills
- If the reaction is more severe, you may need to seek medical attention
You should also be aware of the other items that can reduce the quality of the air in your home during this time. Be sure to clean off dusty ornaments and consider reducing the number of scented candles, which can also trigger allergic and asthmatic reactions. You can use beeswax or electronic LED candles to keep the air in your home cleaner and safer.
The beautiful poinsettia flower is another allergen to be aware of. The plant is part of the rubber family and can trigger reactions in people and animals allergic to latex.
Finally, consider leaving out or reducing the scented spray and flocking you use. Both of these can exacerbate respiratory issues and can irritate noses and throats. You can create a beautiful holiday scent naturally with a potpourri of cinnamon sticks, cloves, and fresh orange peels, simmered in water on the stovetop.
When the season ends, wrap the tree securely and store it in a cool, dry place. All decorations should also be dealt with similarly to ensure that you reduce the likelihood of mold developing. With the correct precautions, the holidays can be a fun and joy-filled time for your friends and family. Sometimes, the easiest way to keep your home safe and healthy is with the help of your local AdvantaClean expert. We provide air duct cleaning to help clean the air in your home. Check out our services that can help get your home ready to go for this holiday season:
Winter can also make a significant impact on your home. Water damage can become an issue that you can’t ignore. If you’re dealing with the effects of recent bad weather, AdvantaClean can help. Here are some of the services we offer to help bring restoration to your home: