Most of us fall into two categories when it comes to Christmas trees: real or artificial. Regardless of which one you prefer, both carry significant pros and cons. Surprisingly, some of the cons greatly affect indoor air quality. In this post, we'll address these issues and offer advice on how to mitigate them so you can enjoy your decorations and breathe easy this year!
Artificial trees come in all shapes, colors and sizes and are much more customizable than real ones. You can choose from pre-lit trees with white lights or pre-lit with colored lights. Some even come with fake snow on the branches. They are also reusable and will save you a trip to the Christmas tree farm every year, if that's not your thing. However, artificial trees are not without their setbacks. Artificial trees produce "off gassing" which refers to the release of airborne particulates or chemicals—dubbed volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—from common household products. They can also harbor dust and dust mites from being in storage all year.
The solution? Use an air purifier that removes airborne chemicals produced by off-gassing. I recommend using the BLS12K or MCI PurSynAIRg from Best Living Systems.
Many families make a tradition of going to the Christmas tree farm and finding the perfect tree to take home each year. They look beautiful and even give our homes that fresh, Christmas scent. Real trees are also better for the environment. However, they aren't without their drawbacks. Real trees don't produce pollen in the winter, but they do harbor mold, dust, pollen and other allergens that collect on the trees while they sit on the lot waiting to be sold. Live Christmas trees can carry more than 50 species of pathogenic mold spores, which can multiply rapidly in the cozy warmth of your living room. The average healthy home has about 500-700 mold spores per cubic meter. According to a study done by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, a live Christmas tree can increase the number of mold spores in your home to over 5,000 per cubic meter in just two weeks.
The solution? Hose down your live tree or spray it with vegetable or fruit wash and let it dry completely before bringing it inside. An air purifier is also helpful and will help to remove allergens from the air.
Be sure to wash or wipe down all of your decorations each year to avoid coming in contact with things like dust, dust mites and other allergens.
Have a happy and healthy holiday season!