Is Your Christmas Tree a Source of Mold?

Image Courtesy of Mail Online: I’m allergic to Christmas: Every December when the tree goes up, Lisa goes down with a bout of ‘pine flu’

Is Your Christmas Tree a Source of Mold?
Once you bring that fresh smelling pine tree indoors during the holidays your allergies and asthma may get worse. People for years have suspected that along with that fresh pine scent, an indoor freshly-cut Christmas tree worsened allergy symptoms, but the reason wasn’t completely clear. The problem is likely due as a result of high levels of mold in the trees. Researchers at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut, found that a room containing a fresh Christmas tree for two weeks had mold levels that were five times the normal level. Other studies have shown that levels this high can cause allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms, says the study’s coauthor, allergist and immunologist Philip Hemmers. If someone in the house is allergic to mold, though, you may want to stick with a clean artificial tree or keep the fresh one for no more than a week to minimize the spores produced indoors. Christmas trees, as you will have surmised, are compromised because their roots have been cut off. That leaves only the raw trunk to draw water. When you place the trunk of your Christmas tree in your water-filled stand, bacteria form and quickly clog the xylem.(A fresh Christmas tree for two weeks had mold levels that were five times the normal level)
During the winter months, asthma and sinus complaints tend to increase. According to Dr. John Santilli, complaints from patients increase during the holiday season.
This prompted a study of Christmas trees that made the following conclusion:
Our study demonstrates that a live Christmas tree can be a significant source of mold spores. Therefore, we recommend families with allergies in general and mold allergies in particular not keep a live Christmas tree in their homes for more than a few days at most, and remove it sooner if there are signs of increased allergy symptoms.
Specifically, the study showed that mold spores increased to 5,000 spores per cubic meter of air within 14 days. Normal levels of mold spores are 800, demonstrating a direct correlation with negative air quality issues the longer your Christmas tree is in the home.
Symptoms of allergic reaction include nasal, eye, and throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, and headache. There is also a link between mold and asthma attacks.
Christmas trees are a source of mold because they are cut in advance of the holidays and stored in a moist environment.
If you are highly susceptible to allergic reactions, we suggest that you use an artificial Christmas tree.
To limit some of the negative effects caused by spores on a live tree and dust on an artificial tree, it is suggested that you thoroughly shake the tree outside before taking it indoors and decorating it.