Christmas Trees and Decorations Can Bring Allergies and Asthma Along with Good Cheer

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.

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 or real.

Storage and Allergen Prevention Tips

  • Start by selecting moisture and dirt free areas for holiday decoration storage.
  • Clean stored items with a damp cloth before storage. Dirt supports the growth of mold.
  • Store 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.
  • Control humidity in storage areas. Dehumidify basement storage areas and install fans controlled with humidistat in attics.
  • If 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.
  • Once out of storage, take the contaminated items outside of the home or into a garage to unpack them.
  • Fresh 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.
  • Discard contaminated packing and bring the cleaned items into the home.
  • If 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.
  • Do 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 contamination.

Christmas Bonus Healthy Indoor Air Tips

  • Given 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.
  • The use of a quality air cleaner such as a HEPA filter can provide immediate indoor air improvement by removing the circulating allergens.
  • We 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.