While bringing home that beatiful live Christmas tree may mark the beginning of the holiday season for many, the mold that thrives on its branches can trigger weeks of suffering for some.
Researchers found that the mold counts from a live Christmas tree rose to five times the normal level two weeks after the tree was brought indoors, and that can prove problematic for people with mold allergies.
Live Christmas trees take years to reach a marketable size, giving plenty of time for them to be repositories for grass pollens, herbicides, molds, and other irritants, according to Michael Alexander, M.D., of Niagara Clinical Research in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and colleagues.
The American Christmas Tree Association
, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public with factual data to help consumers make intelligent decisions about Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry, sated 'Indeed, incessant sneezing is no way to spend the holidays, but live Christmas trees are known to often carry microscopic mold spores that can trigger allergy symptoms including sneezing, watery eyes and an itchy nose.'
Twelve times during a two week period, researchers measured mold counts in a room containing a live Christmas tree, beginning when the tree was brought inside and decorated. The indoor temperature was maintained at between 65 and 68 degrees.
For the first three days, counts remained at 800 spores per cubic meter of air, then began escalating, rising to a maximum of 5,000 spores per cubic meter by day 14, when the tree was taken down.
'People with mold sensitivity, based on this study, should consider only keeping their live Christmas tree in the house for four to seven days.' said Environmental Hygienist Harvey Gordon, President of the Indoor Environmental Air Quality Council
, an an International Accreditation Organization for the Indoor Environmental Industry and the Owner of Step By Step Building Sciences
, a Florida based indoor environmental inspection firm . 'Actually, an artificial tree can be a better option for those with mold allergies,' he added, 'but these trees carry their own set of problems, especially if they were stored where they can collect dust and mold, like in the attic or basement.'
But what if you just can't say NO to having a live Christmas Tree...or artificial is just not for you? 'One possible short-term solution, if you suffer from mold allergies, is to consider placing and running a HEPA FILTERED air cleaner in the same room as the tree' says Harvey, 'this could theoretically reduce the aerolosized mold.'
Links mentioned in this article:
IEAQC - www.IEAQC.org
Step By Step Building Sciences - www.IAQHygienist.com
ACTA - www.ChristmasTreeAssociation.org
ACAAI - www.acaai.org
ACAAI Study: http://www.acaai.org/press/news-releases/archives/2006/Pages/ResearchinFindingsAllergy-ImmunologyUnveiledatACAAIAnnualMeeting.aspx