Christmas Trees could be the reason behind family illnesses this festive season, according to surprising research. You may not know (we didn’t) that mould grows naturally on trees, including Christmas Trees and breathing in the spores of the mould growing on the trees can cause ‘Christmas Tree Syndrome’.
The condition has been linked with symptoms including wheezing, coughing, watery eyes, itchy noses, fatigue and sleeping problems say scientists from Upstate Medical University, part of the State University of New York.
The researchers found 53 cases of mould after analysing clippings from 28 Christmas Trees. From these cases, they discovered 70% can cause symptoms that could lead to respiratory illnesses.
Although mould grows on trees naturally, it multiplies when in a warm living room at Christmas.
Researchers also mentioned another study that found that the number of airborne mould spores increases by more than 500% (from 800 per 35 cubic feet to 5,000 per 35 cubic feet) after a Christmas tree has been displayed for 2 weeks.
So does that mean, gulp, no Christmas Tree in the living room?
No. “If you and your children don’t have any obvious allergies, then it is probably not going to bother you,” says lead researcher Dr Lawrence Kurlandsky.
However, if your family does have allergies, Dr Lawrence has provided some advice to avoid Christmas Tree Syndrome.
- Wash your tree by hosing it down in the garden. Leave it to dry before bringing inside the house
- Remove the tree straight away after Christmas Day
- Use air purifier in the same room as the tree to remover allergens from the air
- Or go for an artificial tree. One of those times when fake might be better!
Can bugs really live in your Christmas Tree?
So, we know Christmas Tree Syndrome is a ‘thing’ – but what about all those headlines about little bugs living in our Christmas Trees?
Well, The International Business Times reports that a new study has found that there could be thousands of tiny creepy crawlies living among the tinsel, baubles and lights.
Researchers at the University of Bergen, in Norway, found that critters like mites, lice, moths and spiders wake up (possibly thinking it’s Spring!) when your Christmas Tree is brought into the warmth of your home.
“[Bugs] hibernate for the winter and usually empty their bodies of fluids, produce a chilled liquid and become completely inactive,” Bjarte Jordal, associate professor of the University Museum of Bergen, told the IB Times.
“Upon feeling the heat and being awakened by the light, they believe that springtime has arrived and spring back to life.
“If you pound the tree on a white cloth before you throw it out after Christmas, you will discover quite a number of small bugs.”
Many of them won’t make it through the Christmas season, though – as there’s not much for them to feed on unless you live inside a greenhouse of plants ???
But these bugs, say the researchers, could contribute to allergy symptoms, not unlike the ones mentioned as possible Christmas Tree Syndrome signs. So, it’s good to know what’s what…
Don’t panic, though – you can limit the number of bugs in your tree by getting a locally grown hardwood tree, or, if you’re really worried, a synthetic one.
And just remember that this isn’t some super scary thing to worry about too much. Little bugs live on plants. It’s no big secret…
“You need to take into consideration that there are plenty of insects and bugs in potted plants that are regular features in most households,” added Bjarte.
“As we all know, these attract plenty of flies. It’s no different with Christmas Trees.”