By Bill Hudson

WOODBURY, Minn. (WCCO) — For many of us, a real evergreen is a Christmas tradition – something our families have been doing for generations.

For the Anders family, there’s just something about a real tree which can’t be replaced.

“It smells so good, that’s why we generally buy a balsam – it smells so good,” Diann Anders said.

But what you’re bringing into the house holds some surprises.

No, you don’t have to worry about squirrels jumping out like in the classic holiday film “Christmas Vacation.” It’s what you can’t see inside that tree that’s causing the problem – it is mold.

Within days of being set up and decorated, the tree can begin sending out thousands of mold spores throughout your house.

“That mold will sit there and then we bring them into our nice warm homes. Those molds then reproduce and we will have symptoms from our mold allergies,” explains Dr. Stephanie Fox, internal medicine and allergy doctor with HealthEast.

Dr. Fox says Christmas tree syndrome can trigger serious discomfort for those with allergies and asthma.

And it doesn’t stop with just the tree. Mold can be harbored within evergreen wreaths, swags and garland.

Symptoms are the common irritants, says Dr. Fox: “congestion, drainage, itchy eyes, sneezing, all allergy symptoms.”

But even if you or someone in your household has allergies or asthma and you still want that real tree, all is not lost. There are steps you can take to minimize the discomfort.

Experts recommend shaking the tree outside to rid of all dead materials. Some will douse it with a garden hose and let it dry before bringing it into the home. A final strategy is to mist the trunk with a water and bleach solution.

Most of all, don’t let the tree stand in the home for an extended period of time. Explains Dr. Fox, “Have the tree not be in your home so long, so have it just be there for a few days.”

Diann and Rudy Anders say mold or no mold, it’s a tradition, but if they begin wheezing they’ll now know why.

Bill Hudson

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