Even though there’s been a lot written lately about artificial trees, I feel it can’t be talked about enough. Here’s a few I don’t hear others addressing, and it’s something that results from any vinyl (PVC) item, not just Xmas trees: Chemicals called phthalates, which literally unbind from the source, stick to house dust, and become ingested and inhaled with the airborne household dust. Anyone with vinyl flooring, vinyl blinds and black out curtains/drapes faces the same problem. Many people know that PVC is not good, but the contaminated dust problem is almost never talked about. PVC is usually addressed regarding lead, or when kids play with PVC toys and ingest phthalates directly from the toy or their hands. It is important to remember that the risks associated with PVC follows it wherever it is used.
Photo by Ron Hamad
Artificial Christmas trees are made from PVC. During their manufacture, toxic chemicals are released, which are harmful to the environment. Once inside your home, PVC trees may release toxic lead dust. But there’s more. As with anything made with PVC (also called vinyl), even after the plastic smell is gone, the older the item gets, the more phthalates – which are hormone disrupting chemicals – unbind from the item and stick to your airborne house-dust, which you and your family then inhale and ingest. Solution? Retire that artificial tree, and replace it with a live or cut (and ideally organic) tree. In her book, I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas, Anna Getty writes: “About 98% of Christmas trees are grown sustainably”. And there’s even more you can do to reduce your family’s exposure to phthalates this Christmas: When you purchase gifts, avoid vinyl/PVC toys, packaging, household items, clothing and accessories (for example, vinyl handbags, vinyl belts, vinyl rain slickers, etc.).________________
Mary Cordaro, Inc.
Consulting on healthy and sustainable building materials, interiors and indoor air quality since 1989. Commercial and residential, existing and new construction. Water purification and EMF-shielded HEPA air filters.