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Allergens could ruin the fun of holiday traditions

Some people are allergic to Christmas trees and other holiday decorations that are only taken out once per year.

Along with Black Friday shopping, setting up holiday decorations is a common pastime among Americans in the days following Thanksgiving. During this time many families reminisce as they conduct their annual traditions, hanging up lights, ornaments and other relics from their collective past.

However, more often than not, families store decorations in moist, poorly ventilated areas, such as attics or basements, where they can be kept out of the way for the remainder of the year. While this may seem beneficial, mold and dust can accumulate on decorations, both of which can be released into the air when boxes are unearthed for the holiday season, causing problems for allergy sufferers. Exposure to mold and dust can worsen asthma symptoms and lead to sneezing, coughing and nasal problems among those with allergies.

Decorations should be thoroughly cleaned before they are hung up around the home. If mold spores have started to grow on certain decorations, they should be cleaned using bleach or detergent. Allergy sufferers who are tasked with removing mold should be sure to wear a mask with a HEPA filter and protective gloves.

Christmas trees can also irritate individuals with allergies to trees or mold, which can grow around the base of tree where it is usually watered.

"The holiday season is always tricky for kids and adults," allergist David Edmondson told Wisconsin's CBS affiliate WSAW. "New allergens are brought into the home, especially with Christmas trees. They will actually cause mold counts in the house to go up."

To prevent allergens from spreading next holiday season, families with members who suffer from allergies should ensure that storage areas are kept dry and aerated often. They may even consider checking on holiday items during their spring cleaning.

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