I have never heard so many people as I have this year mention Christmas tree allergies. I know at least 4 people in the past week have told me that they are allergic to Christmas trees. They love the look, the smell, the whole package of a Christmas tree, except for the sneezing, the itchy eyes and the coughing that comes with it.
I wondered if it is certain pines that cause the allergies or is the whole pine family. Apparently some pines are more allergenic than others and often times it is not the tree at all, but the mold on the tree. According to http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/trees, there are some trees that are less allergenic than others. For instance, the Leland Cyprus is a good choice, Not only is it essentially odorless, but because it is a hybrid tree and produces no pollen, it is virtually allergy free. This site also states that Christmas trees remove dust and pollen from the air.
They can however, carry a lot of mold. Some Christmas tree dealers will have “shakers” that not only shake off the loose needles, but also the dust and mold on the tree. Find out if your dealer has one of these. At least give a good shake before bringing it in your house. You may also want to hose it off to remove mold and dust as well. Just let it dry off with the stump in a bucket of water in the garage or sheltered spot before bringing it in. The same goes for any natural garlands or wreaths you choose to put inside your home.
The sap from the tree can also irritate the skin and cause an allergic reaction to some people. While handling the tree, whether getting it on your car or setting it up in your house, wearing gloves can prevent the sap from irritating your skin.
If you are using an artificial tree in place of a real one, remember these, too, can harbor mold. Give them a good airing out and outside shake, too, before setting them up. Store them where they will not acquire a lot of mold (somewhere dry) and remember, even artificial trees don’t last forever. You will have to get a new one every few years.
You may want to wipe off your ornaments and decorations to remove any dust that has collected while in storage, and wash your cloth decorations like table linens or towels. Anything that has sat for 11 months has the potential for collecting a lot of dust.
Here are some additional tips to help prevent any “Holiday Allergies:”
• make sure greenery is fresh, the longer it’s been sitting, the drier it can be which can aggravate allergies
• wipe the trunk of live trees thoroughly with bleach and water before you bring it in the house, this will remove any mildew that has accrued on the trunk.
• use a leaf blower to remove pollen and mold or mildew from tree and any dried needles that may be in the branches – a tree takes years to grow so there is all that accumulation from its time in the field
• usually it’s the mold or dust in the tree that triggers allergies, sometimes the tree pollen – you may want to research types available in your area if you think your case may be the pollen
• let the tree dry completely before bringing it indoors
• water it consistently so to prevent it from drying out
• after two weeks, a Christmas tree will emit more mold spores – you may want to wait to get your tree so you won’t have it for more than two weeks
• some people choose to put their tree in a room that isn’t used much but can be seen from the street, so maybe put it in your formal living room instead of your family room where you spend most of your time
• if you are using an artificial tree, let it air out outside after you unpack it and then use the leaf blower on it as well, it will help get put any dust or mold that may have collected. If you don’t want the leaf blower, at least wipe or dust the tree before setting it up
• store decorations in plastic containers to inhibit mold growth and dust collecting on them
• store your artificial tree in a large bag or storage container that will prevent it from getting dusty or moldy
• try to avoid using plush decorations that can collect dust
• wear a mask when unpacking decorations and do it outside
So you do have a choice with a Christmas tree. Whatever type you decide on, take your allergy precautions and have a safe, healthy holiday.