Xmas trees can make your nose red, too
Fifty years ago, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” piloted his shiny schnoz through America’s televisions and into its hearts. Played every year, the show’s songs and story are as synonymous with Christmas as tinsel, candy canes and tipsy co-workers lurking around the mistletoe.
What we don’t know after all these decades is what exactly made the nose glow in the first place. Perhaps because the debut occurred in the era when every mother’s child was spying for mushroom clouds, the brilliant hue was a metaphor for society’s needless fear of nuclear holocaust.
More likely, Rudolf was allergic to the live Christmas trees set up like green lawn jarts in the homes of the other inhabitants of the North Pole. Sneezing, itching, and coughing — even asthma attacks — are known as consequences of having a conifer in closed quarters.
According to busseyenv.com:
Live Christmas trees can carry pathogenic mold spores that proliferate rapidly in the cozy warmth of your living room. One study showed that indoor mold counts went from 800 to 5,000 spores per cubic meter by the fourteenth day a Christmas tree had been kept indoors. In terms of indoor air quality, this amounts to an explosion of mold growth — especially when you consider that the average healthy home tests at 600 mold spores per cubic meter.
Another study analyzed the needles and bark of 28 Christmas trees for the presence of mold and found 53 species on 70% of the trees.
The author had his own close encounter with the effects with his 2-year-old showed signs of an asthma attack. The boy was diagnosed with an allergy to the trees mold spores, and his symptoms disappeared almost instantly.
From a 2007 WebMD article:
Twelve times during a two week period, researchers measured mold counts in a room containing a live Christmas tree, beginning when the tree was brought inside and decorated. The tree was located 10 feet from a heat vent, and the indoor temperature was maintained at between 65 and 68 F.
For the first three days, counts remained at 800 spores per cubic meter of air, then began escalating, rising to a maximum of 5,000 spores per cubic meter by day 14, when the tree was taken down.
Up to 15 percent of the population can be allergic to Christmas tree mold.
But before you deprive the family of the expense, dropped needles and significant recycling problems that come with a live tree, don’t assume that everything is more nice than naughty with artificial one. Notwithstanding whatever their chemical composition, they are massive dust magnets, and during dismantling or assemblage, they can mist the air with allergens.
Ah, Christmas trees. The gift that keeps on giving.
Topics: Indoor Air Quality
Ken Nelson Ken Nelson is the Northwest Regional Sales Manager for the Panasonic Eco Products Division, specializing in ventilation solutions for residential and multi-family living environments. Over the past four years, Ken has spoken throughout the Northwest, teaching and training builders, building science advocates and professionals on the physics of moisture and air movement in homes of all sizes, types and age.