Your Health

Buying holiday decorations? Here’s what you should know

Don't let these chemicals ruin your holiday cheer

You may need to be careful rockin’ around the Christmas tree this year! Why you ask? Well, there might be some unexpected chemicals in that holly jolly decoration above your head. Holiday decorations can bring great cheer, but sometimes they can contain an unwanted surprise. Some decorations may be made with toxic chemicals – keep a look out for the ones below!

How to have a safer holiday season without missing out on all the cheer

Let’s be real, the holidays are ALLL about the decorations, right? Half the fun is drinking hot cocoa while hanging up lights or decorating the tree. With rumors of yucky chemicals in holiday decorations floating around, we’re here to set things straight. Yes, unfortunately there are some chemicals and metals in holiday decorations. And no, there’s not really a good way to differentiate between safe and unsafe holiday decorations, BUT, there are things you can do make sure that the chemicals stay far away from your holiday fun. Here’s what we recommend:

  • If you have decorations that might contain toxic chemicals, put them up using gloves and hang them far away from children’s reach.
  • Make your own Christmas decorations – we love a good arts and crafts night of paper snowflakes or popcorn strings.
  • Wash your hands (and your kids’ hands) after putting up the tree or other holiday decorations.
  • Look for a Prop 65 warning on holiday decor you purchase – this will tell you if there are any chemicals in the product that cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm.
  • Opt for some natural furnishings instead of synthetic ones (e.g. real pinecones and berries and garlands).

Curious what’s out there? Here’s four things to watch out for

We’re all about making sure that chemicals don’t spoil your fun. While we mentioned before, it’s hard to tell if what you’re buying is safe, we do have a list of things that might be worth watching out for.

  • Lead in holiday lights (1)
    • Lead exposure can result in brain and kidney damage (2). It also negatively affects the nervous system and can lead to muscle weakness (2). Lead is particularly a concern for children because almost all of the lead that enters an adult body will be excreted through urine or feces, but less than a third of lead that enters a child’s body will be excreted (2).
  • Flame retardants in holiday garlands and beads (1)
    • Flame retardants are a class of chemicals that have been found to have endocrine disrupting effects (3).
  • Heavy metals in holiday garlands and beads (1)
    • Look out for cadmium, arsenic, and mercury in garlands and beads. These heavy metals can cause damage to multiple organs, even in low doses and are also classified as either “known” or “probable” human carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (5).
  • PVC in artificial trees (1, 4)
    • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is the main component of artificial trees, contains phthalate plasticizers that can have endocrine disrupting effects (1, 6). These phthalate plasticizers can come off easily into the hands or get into the air (6).

With some savvy shopping and creative ideas, you can make sure this holiday season isn’t spoiled by sneaky toxic chemicals!