People often decide to buy artificial Christmas trees for various reasons: due to allergy, because of the simplicity in cleaning and maintenance, multiple uses and saving money, environmental reasons and so like.
There are various opinions of experts on the question of whether it is “healthier” to bring home natural or artificial tree.
Some remind us that artificial trees are made entirely of synthetic plastic – polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and claim that it is not dangerous, nor harmful to human health.
However, Dr. Glen Harnett, director of the chain American Family Care, warn us that PVC mixture is resistant to fire, in which sometimes are found metals such as lead, barium and tin.
He recalls that with the research done in 2004, in artificial trees was found a quantity of lead.
“PVC discharges volatile organic compounds, and they can cause irritation of the noses mucous membrane, mucous membrane of the eye and lungs” – says Dr. Harnett.
In other cases PVC contains phthalates, volatile fluids that are added to plastic polymers to expand their mobility.
Because of its harmfulness, EU prohibited their use in toys, because they can distort the hormonal balance in your body, says Dr. Bruce Lanpear, professor of health sciences at the University Simon Fraser, and warns us that it is very difficult to precisely know from what really a Christmas tree is made. He recalls that there are several various types of phthalates among which some imitate the activity of the female hormone – estrogen.
“Three quarters of the chemical compounds established in different items of daily use, are not tested sufficiently when it comes to the harmful effect on the reproductive organs or the effect of brain development and cognitive behavioral skills in children, however are assumed to be safe” – says Dr. Lanpear, adding that it is very hard with 100% certainty, to determine what is the real risk of potential harmful outcomes of chemicals from the Christmas tree that we spend about 6 hours a day beside it, a month in a year within 10 years.
Dr. Harnett jokingly says that, he would not like to be a Grinch and there are ways that can protect us from harmful effects of these potential chemical compounds existing in Christmas trees made of PVC.
He also says that the products of synthetic plastic, including Christmas trees discharge significantly less harmful chemicals, after we bring them out to fresh air.
“The longer your artificial tree is ventilated on fresh air, the better” – recommend Harnett, and advises buying Christmas trees without PVC, made from PE (polyethylene), dark plastic material, from which the plastic packaging is usually made.