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Indoor Air Quality Concerns: Christmas Trees

There’s nothing like a lovely, pine-scented, live Christmas tree to get us in the holiday spirit. Unfortunately, these beloved symbols of the yuletide season can compromise our indoor air quality by triggering some pretty nasty allergic reactions once they’re inside our homes.

It’s Not About Pollen

It all has to do with the way Christmas trees are harvested and transported. Once they are cut down, they are stacked and then loaded tightly into refrigerated trailers. Even though they’re kept at cool temperatures, they are packed so closely together that naturally occurring mold on the trees has an opportunity to flourish.

By the time the trees arrive in our homes, they may be carrying more than 50 species of pathogenic mold spores, generating more than 5000 mold spores per cubic meter within two weeks after entering the home. That’s about nine to 10 times more mold spores than the average healthy home has.

These figures were derived as a result of a study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The researchers who developed the study had wanted to know why so many people seem to experience worsening allergic symptoms when Christmas trees are introduced into the home.

And, mold is not the only allergen the Christmas trees bring with them. There’s also dust and yes, even a bit of pollen of varying types, although by the time the trees are cut they are no longer producing pollen.

Live Christmas Trees Alternatives

The one sure-fire way not to experience allergic reactions to a live tree is not to put one in your home. But if that seems too harsh, here are some alternatives:

  • An enlarged print of a Christmas tree, hung up like a tapestry;
  • A chalkboard featuring a fancy drawing of a decorated tree and other yuletide motifs;
  • A dead (as opposed to green) branch collected from outdoors. Clean it, paint it and coat it with polyurethane. Put it in a vase and decorate it for Christmas.

For more on indoor air quality solutions and filtration products, contact Arpi’s Industries. We serve Calgary and the surrounding area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Calgary, Alberta about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide.