Monday, 22 December 2014

Allergy to Christmas Tree's Is Not Only Caused By Moulds

Some years ago and more recently in the media it has been noted that small studies on mould found on live Christmas tree's brought into the home for the festive period suggest that the amount of moulds on the tree slowly increased over the days it spends in your home. We recommended at the time that as a result it would be best if people who are sensitive to moulds remove these trees after 7 - 10 days before the amount of mould growing on the trees built up too much.

This year we have noticed a paper documenting a much larger study from 1970 on this subject - quoting the summary below:

A history of respiratory or other allergic symptoms during the Christmas season is occasionally obtained from allergic patients and can be related to exposure to conifers at home or in school.   
Incidence and mechanism of production of these symptoms were studied. Of 1657 allergic patients, respiratory and skin allergies to conifers occurred in 7%. This seasonal syndrome includes sneezing, wheezing and transitory skin rashes. The majority of patients develop their disease within 24 hours, but 15% experience symptoms after several days delay. 
Mould and pollen studies were carried out in 10 test sites before, during and after tree placement in the home. Scrapings from pine and spruce bark yielded Urge numbers of Penicillium, Epicoccum and Alternaria, but these failed to become airborne. No significant alteration was discovered in the airborne fungi in houses when trees were present. Pollen studies showed release into air of weed, grass and tree pollens while Christmas trees were in the house. Oleoresins of the tree balsam are thought to be the most likely cause of the symptoms designated as Christmas tree allergy.
It seems therefore that allergies caused by Christmas trees may also be caused by several other factors other than moulds, though it remains important to be aware of moulds especially when moving or otherwise disturbing the trees

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