A quick personal social media poll resulted in 59% real trees and 41% artificial trees.
However, this is mainly because I live in the Midwest.
This blog isn’t about hyping a specific, safe option. I’ve learned than knowing your options aids an informed decision on what you’d like in your house. And that’s what I’m about- knowing your options and making your OWN informed decision.
Artificial Christmas trees are becoming more and more popular. There’s no needles to clean up, they can be reused, they can save you money- the list goes on. With this convenience list, at what expense does it impact your health?
Most artificial Christmas trees are manufactured in China and made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a petroleum- based plastic.
Fun Fact: PVC production is the largest and fastest-growing use of chlorine.
Chlorine is the basic building block of our most notorious toxins:
CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) which destroyed the ozone layer,
Agent Orange (a tactical herbicide),
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and
DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) pesticides.
PVC must be combined with other chemicals to create its final products. Phthalates, heavy metals like lead, fungicides, and other toxic substances are used in this process. These additives aren’t chemically bound to the PVC. What does that even mean? It means they can be off-gassing in your home.
Off-gassing is the airborne release of a chemical.
Are you familiar with that ‘new car smell’ or that ‘new carpet smell’?
PVC can also give off lead dust which is released into the air. Lead, as I’m sure you’re aware, is incredibly toxic to kiddos. In 2008, PVCs were banned from children’s toys in the United States. Why? Because phthalates impact natural hormone functioning in children increasing chances of birth defects, testicular cancer, liver problems, etc. Unfortunately, they haven’t been banned from school supplies.
Artificial Christmas trees typically contain flame retardant chemicals. These chemicals are associated with hormone disruption, infertility, thyroid disorders, oxidative stress, immune system disruption, etc.
Did you know? A British study presented at the March 2012 national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) showed that halogen-based flame retardants increase the danger of invisible toxic gases, the leading cause of death in fires.
These flame retardant chemicals are not only used in artificial Christmas trees. They are also added to carpets, furniture, crib mattresses, cars, and many other products.
Now, Karen, don’t panic! If you’re an artificial Christmas tree owner, there are precautions that will help reduce exposure.
You may be asking yourself, how in the world will I know if the artificial Christmas tree I'm purchasing is a safer option!? Here's a couple tips-
The more you know,
Dr. Taryn Stittleburg, DC, CFMP, PSc.D