Air Quality,  Wellness & Wellbeing

Healthy Home for the Holidays

Every year the holidays bring lights, decorations, gifts, and cheer. However, some of the most enjoyable aspects of the holidays can also bring lead, PVC and pesticides. But no fear, we have five ways to keep your holidays healthy and your family thriving!

  1. Holiday Lights:  I love holiday lights beautifully strung with care. The part I do not love is handling the lights. The PVC coating that insulates the wires contains lead. The lead is used to keep the PVC coating from cracking and crumbing with age. Many brands tested contained higher then acceptable levels of lead.  What to do: Be sure to wash your hands and clothing after handling holiday lights. Avoid holding the lights around your neck as you decorate. Watch children if they are handling the lights and do not allow them to wrap the lights around their bodies. While it can be an adorable antic, children are especially susceptible to the effects of lead.
  2. Ornaments and Decorations: Holiday ornaments and decorations are often made in China or other developing countries where regulations and restrictions are less stringent. New products may contain heavy metals, phthalates, and PVC, among other toxic chemicals. Vintage decorations may also contain lead paint or old plastic. As the decorations deteriorate, the paint and plastic can break down, leaving a trail of toxic dust. What to do: Choose natural decorations or make your own decorations using recycled household items. Old holiday cards are a favorite treasure to use for making lovely, unique ornaments. Handle store bought decorations carefully. Be sure you wash your hands after handling and keep old decorations away from children. If the decoration is falling apart it may be time to retire it or put it inside of a clear keepsake box.
  3. Christmas Trees:  The age-long debate – real vs. artificial – will likely never end. However, the reality is, both have their drawbacks. The artificial tree made with PVC and other synthetic products has a lasting chemical trail. The pre-lit trees are convenient, however, many contain cadmium, lead, and chromium.  While the real tree is natural, many tree farms use heavy pesticides. And some tree lots have been caught using spray paint to keep the older trees looking fresh. Regardless of the type or color of tree, the needles end up all over the house, which means the chemicals do as well. What to do: Around the holidays it is important to vacuum, sweep, and dust regularly. If you like the look of a traditional tree try to source one that is organically grown. An alternative to the traditional Christmas tree is to decorate a house plant or bare limb tree.
  4. Candles and Fragrances: Both are popular during the holidays, however paraffin wax and the fragrance used by most popular brands can have a negative effect on your health. When burned, paraffin candles create a highly toxic mix of benzene and toluene. Some older scented candle wicks also contain lead. Many holiday fragrances contain phthalates, a known hormone disruptor, along with other synthetic chemicals. What to do: If you enjoy candles and holiday fragrances, there are natural options available. Beeswax candles are an excellent choice and they can actually help clean indoor air, rather than pollute it. High-quality, natural oils work well in a diffuser, or my favorite holiday scent is fresh rosemary from the garden.
  5. Holiday Gifts and Toys: We all love to see the magic on a child’s face when opening a gift. However, many of this year’s most popular items – toys, clothes, and electronics, expose us and our homes to an influx of new chemicals. Not only can the new item contain a plethora of chemicals, so do the packaging and gift wrap.  What to do: After gifts are opened properly dispose of the extra packaging and gift wrap. Vacuum, sweep and dust to capture the particles that became airborne as presents were opened. Open the windows or run an air purifier often during and after the holidays. Adding a few new plants can also improve your indoor air quality.

Keep your holidays festive and healthy with a little planning and an extra cleaning. Remember to briefly open windows, run an air purifier, and add a couple festive plants to keep your home’s air fresh and circulating during the cold winter months.

From all of us at Wellness Via Design we wish you and yours a safe and healthy holiday season.  

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The Guardian

Christmas Tree Farmers  Association of New York


Wellness Mama

Kristina is a Licensed Interior Designer and Certified Health and Wellness Coach. Her passion and dedication to healthy living and the environment began in college as her own health declined. For her, the toxicity of the air, water, food, electromagnetic radiation, building and consumer products found and consumed in our homes and businesses became evident. Kristina realized these issues play a key role in her health and the declining health of our society. Through years of experience and research Kristina has obtained a wealth of knowledge. As the ‘canary in the coal mine’, Kristina has learned firsthand the importance of putting wellness first when creating a balanced and beautiful environment.

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