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. For those suffering with CIRS
or MCS, the joy can be interrupted with severe reactions and a tough choice between
the beauty of Christmas, and their health.
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.
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
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.
Fortunately, the suffering
from Christmas allergies can be avoided with a few tips on proper selection,
storage and care of holiday trees and decorations whether they are artificial
Storage and Allergen Prevention Tips
by selecting moisture and dirt, dust and insect free areas for holiday
stored items with a damp cloth before storage. Dirt supports the growth of
trees, decorations and other materials in plastic bins, or wrap in plastic bags,
not cardboard. Cardboard holds moisture and is a food source for mold.
humidity in storage areas. Dehumidify basement storage areas and install fans controlled
with humidistat in attics.
the stored items from last year are already covered with mold and dust, place
them in plastic bags or bins before carrying them through the house. Dragging
mold and other allergens through the house can spread mold and allergens.
out of storage, take the contaminated items outside of the home or into a
garage to unpack them.
cut trees or stored items can have dust blown off them using a leaf blower or
they be can be hosed down with a garden hose. If you use a leaf blower, wear a
mask. Both methods remove mold, dust, and some of the lead dust usually found
on artificial trees and decorations.
contaminated packing and bring the cleaned items into the home.
your holiday items were covered with mold and dust, change the conditions in
the storage area. Mold growing in the storage areas will affect the air quality
in the main home all year around.
not spray materials with pesticide no matter how grossed out you are by the
bugs. The poisons designed to kill bugs will damage people’s health. Plain soap
and water will safely and effectively remove insect and rodent
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.
In the other corner are artificial Christmas trees and
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
a choice, it is better to place trees and decorations in areas of hard surface
floors such as wood as opposed to carpet. These floors are easier to clean and
hold fewer allergens.
use of a quality air cleaner such as a HEPA filter can provide immediate indoor
air improvement by removing the circulating allergens.
want our homes to smell like Christmas. Many of those “plug in” scents contain
synthetic esters and formaldehyde. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology states that “we know
that asthmatics are clearly sensitive to odors and fumes; therefore it would
not be unexpected that air fresheners could trigger asthmatic episodes.” Bake a
pie or use potpourri as an alternative to the artificial scents.
No matter which type of
tree and decorations you select, have a happy, allergy and asthma free holiday.
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