It’s Christmas Tree Allergy Time

If you find yourself sneezing or bothered by watery eyes and an itchy, runny nose at this time of year, the problem could be your Christmas tree. Doctors once thought that pollen clinging to the trees was to blame, but a Connecticut allergist recently reported on an experiment that suggests otherwise. He put a live Christmas tree inside an apartment and took air samples for two weeks.

At first, mold spore counts were only slightly higher than the normal range, 500 to 700 spores per cubic meter of air, but within two weeks they spiraled to 5,000 spores per cubic meter. Mold forms when trees decay. The longer the tree is up, the worse the potential to exacerbate allergy symptoms, particularly among people with asthma and those prone to sinus infections.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in November 2007. You can get rid of the symptoms easily: just take down the tree … or buy a fake.

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