What is 'Christmas Tree Syndrome'?


Once a year, families head to the attic or down to their basements and crawl spaces to grab annual Christmas decorations.

What many family members don't know is the things collecting on wreaths and ornaments could very well make their family and friends sick.

“Many of the people who have allergies will be bothered,” said Dr. Roger Friedman with Ohio ENT and Allergy.

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It’s called Christmas Tree Syndrome. Stored away holiday décor can pollute air quality in homes and cause asthma and allergy symptoms.

“Many times, even if you have an artificial tree that if you have any ornaments collecting dust and mold, that when you bring them out and put them on, you're going to stir up everything,” said Dr. Friedman said. “Actually, they will be more bothered just getting the ornaments.”

Live trees also present risks for those who have pine or mold allergies.

“Most Christmas trees, when they are coming from outdoors, have mold on them and that can cause a big problem for our mold-allergic people,” Friedman said.

So, the question is: what can you do to stay healthy while basking in Christmas cheer?

“If you get a live tree that you want to wash it. You want to bring it home and put the hose on it, wash it off, get rid of all the mold and let it sit outside for a half a day to a day. And then bring it inside,” he said.

As for those ornaments, make sure to wash them before you hang them inside.

“And, make sure you have the person that is the least allergic getting those ornaments out of that dusty place. And at the end of the year — put them away in a nice way. Put them where they aren't going to collect dust or mold as much,” Friedman said

When you get ready to pack your decor this year, consider these tips:

Wear an N-95 mask and put ornaments it in plastic bags, sealed containers. Make sure to wash before you put it away.