Hazardous Toxins Found in Home Holiday Decorations

December 15, 2015

The holidays are approaching quickly and many retailers have already stocked their shelves with holiday décor. This holiday season, put improving the quality of your home air on the top of your to-do list. Make a conscious commitment to evaluate whether or not your holiday decorations are polluting your indoor home air with toxic chemicals and make an effort to purchase holiday décor items made from natural materials free from chemical pollutants.

A recent study tested seasonal products sold at popular mass retailers throughout the country. Two-thirds of these items contained substances linked toasthma, cancer, learning disabilities, birth defects, liver problems, and a host of other health problems. Home decorations and their toxicity are mostly unregulated by the government as long as the product is not labeled as being intended for children. Most of the holiday decorations found on store shelves are not subject to lead, cadmium or phthalate restrictions.

The study tested a number of commonly purchased holiday items including: beaded and tinsel garlands, artificial wreaths and greenery, stockings, tabletop decorations, and gift bags. The results of the testing identified high levels of lead, flame retardants, tin compounds and phthalates, among other hazardous substances. Beaded garlands were amongst the top most dangerous as they were found to contain a number of toxic chemicals including high amounts of lead and phthalates. Lead was found in a number of painted décor items.

Flame retardants also contain numerous toxic chemicals. 12% of holiday string lights tested contained unsafe levels of bromine. This toxic chemical has been linked to developmental and reproductive issues by the EPA. Many scientists and health experts assert that there needs to be increased governmental regulation of these products and warn consumers that halogenated flame retardants and phthalates are dangerous even at low levels and can cause birth defects and reproductive issues.

What can you do to ensure the safety of your home air quality?
Test your air with a Home Air kit to make sure there are no unsafe levels of toxic chemicals present in your home. Keep it clean by disposing of any decorations that you suspect have been treated with fire retardants or painted with lead based paints. When it comes to purchasing new holiday décor, look for natural decorations made from wood, glass, natural greenery that has not been treated with chemicals, pine cones, and other natural materials that are not contaminated with toxic chemicals. Avoid buying decorations that use paint, flame retardants, and adhesives.