At our house this week we are faced with a common holiday dilemma. Should we get a real Christmas tree or an artificial one?
Some folks are committed to real Christmas trees and others are sold on artificial ones. And then there are the rest of us who go back and forth, possibly changing our minds from year to year.
Ever asked yourself which kind of tree is best? The answer is not so straightforward as you might like.
Mold allergies can be stirred up to five times the normal level, when a natural Christmas tree is brought into the house. While the mold spores are dormant out in the cold they can flourish in a warm room.
Allergy specialist Dr Lawrence Kurlandsky of the Upstate Medical University, part of the State University of New York, discovered and documented that respiratory illnesses increase during the holiday season. It's known as Christmas Tree Syndrome.
Researchers studied clippings including bark and needles on 28 Christmas trees and came up with 53 cases of mold.
70 percent of these molds cause unpleasant symptoms such as chest pain, coughing, fatigue, itchy nose, shortness of breath, sinus congestion, sleeping issues and watery eyes. Long term lung problems, along with bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory issues could result from exposure to some of the molds.
Some natural Christmas trees have been on the receiving end of multiple applications of pesticides like Roundup through their years of growth, damaging wildlife and the environment. And the number of discarded Christmas trees each year generates tremendous waste.
On the plus side, if you buy a tree from a local producer, you're helping support your local economy. Your tree can be turned into mulch so it doesn't end up in a landfill.
Louisiana conservation groups, for instance, shore up coastal wetlands with old Christmas trees. In Illinois, herons are given nesting habitats consisting of used Christmas trees.
If your artificial tree has been stored since last Christmas, dust and mold spores from it can spread throughout the room.