Christmas trees could trigger allergies & asthma attacks, experts warn - Institute for Respiratory Health

Christmas trees could trigger allergies & asthma attacks, experts warn

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 | News

As the festive season kicks off, respiratory experts are warning Western Australians with asthma and allergies to be mindful of potential health hazards linked with real and artificial Christmas trees.

For many, the scent of a freshly cut pine tree or the convenience of an artificial tree may be a beloved part of holiday traditions. However, for those with lung conditions such as asthma or allergies, these seemingly harmless decorations can pose serious health risks.

Researchers from the Institute for Respiratory Health­ have cautioned that putting up the much-loved Christmas tree can cause ‘Christmas tree syndrome’ – an allergic reaction that causes wheezing, sneezing, coughs, sore eyes and potentially serious asthma attacks.

Professor Yuben Moodley from the Institute said, “Real Christmas trees, like cypress and pine, can collect a lot of pollen from other plants before they are cut down. This pollen can cause asthma and hay fever symptoms when you bring the tree home.

“Artificial trees present their own set of challenges. Most artificial trees are stored for the majority of the year in the garage, or cupboards accumulating dust, mould and other allergens.

“When brought out for the holiday season, these particles can be released into the air, causing discomfort for those with respiratory sensitivities.

“Even decorations can pose a danger. It’s something we don’t even think about and most are unaware that Christmas trees can harbour pollen and trigger asthma and hay fever symptoms.”

The Institute for Respiratory Health has these top tips to help keep your festive season free of wheezing and sneezing:

Real Christmas tree:

  • Try hosing your tree down before you bring it into the house. This will wash off any pollen. Make sure it’s dry before decorating with electric lights.
  • If your tree is causing hay fever or increased asthma symptoms, move your tree outside.

Artificial Christmas tree:

  • If your artificial tree is dusty, try vacuuming it or wiping it down with a damp cloth.
  • When packing your decorations away, use airtight plastic boxes, so that your decorations are less likely to get dusty through the year.

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