Are Artificial Christmas Trees Safer Than Real Trees? Experts Weigh In

Ad failed to load

I freaking love the smell of fresh pine — and I'm allergic to it. As a kid, my parents always had a live tree. The moment it was upright, I would break out, would start sneezing like a maniac, and develop hives. It took them a bit to figure out that my reaction was the result of my allergy to a tree — thanks, mom and dad — and, when they did, they switched to an artificial tree. But allergies aside, are artificial Christmas trees safer than real trees? Experts say there are some things to consider, including which option is best for the environment.

"When it comes to real trees, some people really don't have a choice," Deemer Cass of UK-based Fantastic Gardeners tells Romper in an email interview. "Having a hay fever may bring hell with a real Christmas tree. Some molds grow naturally on them and they can cause hay fever-like symptoms to people suffering from asthma." In addition to an allergic reaction, Cass points out that live pine trees can also bring with them ticks and other bugs.

"These bugs, however, are adapted to living outside and will very soon die out indoors," Cass says. "They are by no means any threat to homeowners and their families." On the other hand, Cass says, ticks transported in your home from a Christmas tree may occur, but on a rare occasion. "Ticks survive from feeding on living big animals and a Christmas tree is not a suitable habitat for them," he notes.

Ad failed to load

In terms of a real Christmas tree being a fire hazard, Cass says trees become flammable only if they dry out. "Just make sure you water it daily and position it away from heat sources."


When it comes to being kind to the environment, artificial trees can be a solid choice, Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, tells Romper in an email interview. "But only if they are used for a certain number of years before their disposal," he says. Still, Backe says, a live tree doesn't pose the environmental loss that some people might believe it does.

Ad failed to load

"While cutting down a real tree does constitute a kind of environmental damage, this doesn't necessarily make it a more harmful long-term act, environmentally speaking, than purchasing and using an artificial tree does," he says. "The thing is, real trees decompose and return to the earth when they are disposed. So, while a tree is ripped from the ground for aesthetic and unnatural home use, it does in fact eventually feed into the circle of life, decomposing and feeding the growth of future trees."


Artificial trees, on the other hand, are potentially more problematic, Backe says. "Made of unnatural plastics and other non-biodegradable materials, when an artificial tree is disposed, it doesn't return to the ground and it doesn't feed the circle of life. More often than not it ends up in a landfill, harming the environment and doing more harm than it did good in preventing the killing of a real tree."

Ad failed to load

Backe points out that studies have suggested that an artificial tree must be used for as many as 20 years in order to make it the eco-friendly option. "Anecdotal evidence suggests that the average homeowner utilizes their artificial tree for far less than 20 years, meaning that more often than not, the real tree is the real green choice," he says.

In terms of an artificial tree being a fire hazard, Cass adds that artificial trees could also be a problem, "and being made from mostly PVC, they would emit highly toxic gases [should they catch fire]."

So, contrary to popular belief, the real Christmas tree might be the safer and healthier option. Now if I could just control these d*mn allergies.

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

13 Unique (& Totally Not Mainstream) Mother's Day Gifts For The Hipster Mom

Hipsters thrive on being outside the norm and not really digging anything considered "mainstream." Whether it's in their fashion, what music they listen to, the books they read, or how they enjoy beverages, there's just something that makes them dist…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills