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Are Christmas Trees a Source of Indoor Mold?

November 27, 2007 | 34,325 views

A study on a live Christmas tree showed that they could be a source of allergenic mold. Measurements showed that mold counts were 800 spores per cubic meter of air during the first three days, which are just about normal levels. However, mold counts began rising from the fourth day on, and by day 14, when the tree was taken down, the measure was 5,000 spores per cubic meter of air.

Mold allergies affects about 15 percent of the population. Allergic reactions can include nasal, eye, and throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, and headache. There is also a link between mold and asthma attacks, and a risk of invasive fungal disease for those people with compromised immune systems.

Most Christmas trees are cut in advance of the holidays and stored in a moist environment, making them a likely mold source. However, artificial trees and ornaments collect dust in storage and are therefore another possible source of allergy irritation.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Mold grows in moist environments, so the relationship between live Christmas trees and mold is perhaps not a big surprise. Most trees are cut far in advance and stored in a moist environment to keep them fresh, and then you place it in water for a couple of weeks while in your home. This container of stagnant water and the moist tree trunk can contribute to the increase in mold spores.

If you start displaying physical symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes or skin rashes after putting up your Christmas tree, it may very well be a sign that you’re having an allergic reaction to mold from your tree. Exposure to molds can increase asthma attacks and sinus problems in both children and adults.

Unfortunately, mold spores are very difficult to destroy, even with chemical agents such as bleach (which is itself toxic), so your best way to reduce the problem is through preventive measures.

Using a plastic tree instead of a real one would be one good solution, in addition to being less expensive in the long run. Just make sure you store it in a box or covered container during the rest of the year, and shake out any collected dust before you begin decorating it for Christmas.

Strengthening your immune system is also important, as all allergies are a sign of an impaired immune system. Gary Null has an excellent video on this topic called Supercharge Your Immune System, which is a must-see.

Following my eating plan, adhering to foods that complement your nutritional type is one of your most potent ways to keep your immune system working optimally.

In my clinical experience, I have also found that both krill oil and fish/cod liver  oil can help reduce allergic responses by enhancing your immune system and soothing irritated mucous membranes. (If you take cod liver oil, remember to get your vitamin D levels tested. Because although most Americans' vitamin D levels are far less than optimal, it is still possible to overdose on vitamin D.)

You may also want to consider using a high-quality air purifier. This is a simple way to reduce your exposure to potential allergens, regardless of the season.

How to Avoid Other Christmas Tree Hazards

But there are other, more common Christmas tree hazards to also keep in mind this season. Follow these important tips to keep your family and home safe:

  1. Avoid using artificial snow sprays, which can cause lung irritation if inhaled

  2. Always turn off your tree lights when you go to bed or leave the house 

  3. Never burn Christmas tree branches in your fireplace. It can cause the buildup of creosote, which is a highly flammable compound

  4. Make sure your tree is placed as far away as possible from heat sources, such as a fireplace or portable heater

  5. Hang all ornaments that are breakable, have small, detachable parts, or that look like food or candy on higher branches where small children can't reach them

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