Americans buy 9.5 million fake trees each year, but some people could get sick from them.
If the holidays are leaving you feeling lousy, it may not be your in-laws.
It could be the fake tree.
Many of these trees are made with polyvinyl chloride, the PVC used in construction pipes, car interiors and toys. It’s fire-resistant and uses different metals as stabilizers.
“PVC also releases gases known as volatile organic compounds, which are gases that can irritate the eyes, nose, and lungs,” Glenn Harnett, chief medical officer of American Family Care, told Men’s Health.
Exposure to PVC can cause reproductive, developmental and other problems, according to the National Institutes of Health.
And there’s the big question of what to do once the needles fall off the real deal. The National Christmas Tree Association, which tracks such things, says 93% of the real trees are recycled. Fake ones cannot be.
Trees are big business. Each year, Americans buy 33 million real trees, spending $ 1.2 billion. And we buy 9.5 million fake trees, totaling $ 685 million.
People hold onto the fake trees for years, which is why the Christmas Tree Association also reports that more than 80% of American households have them.
Given that one of the reasons people buy artificial trees is that they can use them each year, it’s difficult to know what went into making them years ago.
One way to nip problems in the bud is to replace the tree after nine seasons because that’s when PVC starts to weaken.
It also helps to let the tree — even one made in a factory — air out before setting it up in your home. This allows the chemicals to disperse outside.
“The longer you’re able to let the tree air outside of your home, the better,” Harnett said.
And there are PVC-free fake trees. The box should say that it’s made from polyethylene.
Of course, if you have a real tree, no allergies, feel lousy and have a house full of people, it could be the relatives.
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