November 28th, 2017 8:37 AM by Dan Howard
Merry Christmas and please pass the antihistamine or inhaler---‘tis the season for asthma and allergies. Like Aunt Helen’s twice re-gifted fruit cake, sneezing and congestion are simply not welcome guests at the family holiday celebration.
Smack in the middle of Christmas debate is often the choice of a real or artificial Christmas trees, wreaths and other decorations. Which is better “real” or “artificial” is one of those questions that the answer is a resounding: “that depends, but let me explain.” The bottom line is that you want the “beauty of Christmas” and not the allergens to take your breath away.
If you want a quick clue as to how complicated the issue is, you need to know more about the first artificial tree. In the 1930’s, the Addis Brush Company created the first artificial-brush trees using the same machinery as they used to make toilet brushes. The Addis 'Silver Pine' tree was actually patented in 1950. Now, does a toilet brush go into the healthy or unhealthy category?
Why Allergies and Asthma Spike During Holidays
Stored holiday items can be a source of mold growth. Fiberglass and other insulation particles, dust and mold from storage areas and other allergens can get into improperly stored holiday heirlooms. Even tightly sealed boxes can attract mice and insects, each contributing to the allergen and germ categories. Yuck !
There has been an increase in the number of people affected with asthma and allergies spiking during the holidays. Obviously, Christmas comes at a time of year when homes are most likely to be closed up to protect from winter weather. Many homes are built with wet crawl spaces and improper venting systems. With tighter construction, attic and basement storage areas are often full of mold.
Storage and Allergen Prevention Tips
The Live Versus Artificial Christmas Tree Debate
In this corner, we have live Christmas trees and decorations. Live Christmas trees are a crop. The National Christmas Tree Association states that the average Christmas tree is 7 years old when harvested. That would mean that the tree was producing oxygen to improve the environment for 7 years. Those trees require care, thereby creating American jobs.
One disadvantage of live Christmas trees is that they require replacement every year. That cost may be greater than the cost of an artificial tree across its lifetime. There is also the issue that Christmas trees need properly disposed of each year. The good news is that they can be turned into mulch.
Artificial trees are light to carry and easy to assemble. It is the only option for people who can’t handle the work of a live tree.
According to the US Commerce Department, 80% of artificial trees are manufactured and shipped from China. That would be Chinese jobs created.
Artificial Christmas trees, tree lights and plastic decorations have been subject to warnings about lead. Lead is added to PVC during manufacture to make the plastic more pliable when hanging strings of light or adjusting tree limbs. That lead is a soft material will easily fall from the products containing it when they are handled Lead is a serious health hazard, particularly to children.
The process of manufacturing the PVC creates the toxic chemical dioxin, which is also released if the plastic is burned during disposal.
“Christmas Bonus” Healthy Indoor Air Tips
If you are curious as which side of the tree discussion the Howard household falls, we have a 10’ artificial tree and a 12’ real Christmas tree. No matter which type of tree and decorations you select, have a happy, allergy and asthma free holiday.