Doctors say mold found in Christmas tree varieties can trigger a - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Doctors say mold found in Christmas tree varieties can trigger allergies

(Source: WBRC video) (Source: WBRC video)
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Live Christmas tree stands are popping up all over the state and you may want to pay attention if you've started sneezing a lot more.

Unfortunately, a lot of different kinds of mold are found in live Christmas trees and doctors say that mold can trigger allergy symptoms or a severe asthma attack. 

Douglas firs and Frazier firs are some of what you'll find at the Mountain Scouts Christmas Tree Sale in Vestavia Hills. 

"We're getting more trees coming in daily,” said Patrick Veacarella, operations manager.

He said the large variety is helpful to people who have allergies.

"We have people asking for a specific kind because they're not allergic to one type but they are another," said Veacarella.

And sometimes people may confuse sneezing and runny nose with cold symptoms when instead they're allergic to the tree. It's what some doctors call Christmas Tree Syndrome. But it's usually not the tree itself that makes you sick.

"It's a juniper tree and very few people are allergic to those," said allergist Dr. Weily Soong.

Soong, with the Alabama Allergy & Asthma Center, said mold in the tree or chemicals sprayed on it to preserve it are the problem, which can trigger allergy symptoms or cause an asthma attack.

"Mold loves moisture, so when you put the water in the tree it's a great place for mold to grow,” said Dr. Soong. “So it releases mold spores and people become allergic."

Dr. Soong said Christmas trees are full of moisture anyway because they're stored outdoors. So mold is already growing on it before you buy one.

"If you've been tested before and you've had quite a bit of allergies to mold and trees, you definitely should think about getting an artificial tree," said Dr. Soong.

Doctors say allergic reactions can happen instantly or within the first two weeks of putting up a live tree. Something you can do to keep the mold away is spray the tree with water and let it dry outside before you bring it in your house.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.
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