Holiday Health: Are Your Holiday Decorations Making It Hard to Breathe?

November 28, 2017 | Articles
Holiday health - Are Your Holiday Decorations Making It Hard to Breathe?

The holidays are a wonderful time of year in Frederick, Maryland. You’re ready to buy a tree, pull your ornaments out of storage, and decorate your home. Unfortunately, some of your holiday traditions could be impacting your indoor air quality. From issues like tree allergies to dust and mold spores collecting in stored ornaments, holiday decor can cause breathing problems for your family. Pay attention this holiday season to keep your family’s respiratory health in top shape.

Dust and Mold From Items in Cardboard Storage

Your holiday ornaments have been packed away for 11 months, wrapped in tissue paper and collecting dust. When you pull those ornaments out, you release a lot of dust. If you store them in corrugated cardboard boxes, mold spores might grow if the cardboard gets at all damp. If you’ve stored your ornaments like this, open them on the porch, throw away the boxes, and then bring the ornaments inside. Consider running an air purifier while you hang them, too.

Instead, put your ornaments in plastic bags, then store them in airtight bins. When you open them, you won’t be releasing tons of dust. You can also clean the bins between each storage, further reducing the amount of dust that might end up in storage each year.

Fake Trees Containing VOCs

Artificial trees usually have PVC in their construction, and PVC releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs often irritate your lungs and your sinuses, and can make any allergy sufferers in your home feel worse. PVC also contains phthalates, which disrupt your endocrine system. Some fake trees made in China also contain lead, which can come off the tree as dust and cause problems for children.

Look for a tree made in the USA, and replace it every few years. If you need to get a fake tree, look for one made of polyethylene. Though no plastic is entirely safe, polyethylene doesn’t have the same problems PVC does.

Holiday Plants Releasing Pollen and Mold Spores

Evergreen trees and garlands, plus holiday plants like poinsettias, release pollen just like any other plant. Some family members may be sensitive to these plants without being aware of it. Because winter is the time of colds and the flu, you may never have connected your stuffy nose or itchy throat with your holiday tree. Christmas trees might also contain mold, since they’ve been growing outdoors in sometimes damp or humid conditions.

Since you know what kind of fake tree to look for, consider buying one instead. These days, people have made creative trees by hanging ornaments on the wall, painting a tree somewhere, or stacking household items in the shape of a tree. You might also use better HVAC air filters, or install an air purifier, to minimize the impact if you absolutely must have a real tree.

Chemicals From the Fireplace

Having a crackling fire in the fireplace is wonderful during the holidays. However, you might be burning items that release harmful chemicals into the air. Storing your wood or your yule log indoors, for example, is a bad idea. That wood might collect mold or mildew from the humidity inside your house, and you release those spores when you burn the wood.

Burning wrapping paper is also a bad idea. The wrapping paper has chemicals on it to make it shiny and thick, and when you burn the paper you release some of those chemicals into your air. They can irritate your sinuses and throat. Only burn dry wood in the fireplace, and only do that after you’ve had your chimney swept. You don’t want any ash trailing inside from a dirty chimney, either.

Call Griffith Energy Services for assistance with IAQ this holiday season. We’re happy to answer questions about the best air filters for your HVAC system. We can also give you an estimate on having a whole-home air purifier installed to help reduce the presence of allergens and mold spores in your home. You deserve to enjoy your holiday season without suffering through breathing problems or allergy symptoms. Contact us today at 888-721-5707.

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