Friday, November 14, 2008

Don't be fooled by allergy doctor

Heres' the concern we have with reference to the Christmas tree mold issue. We would never dispute the results; we're quite sure the device did measure an increase in mold spores during the time frame. But we take issue with what the allergy doctor did with that measurement.

1. He called it a study, which, with no control group measured and compared, is misleading at best. As pointed out in the White Paper, standards for scientific research were not adhered to and therefore, the conclusions should not be referred to as a "study."

2. He never presented his findings in front of a panel of peers, either medical professionals or mold experts. He merely left documents with some charts laying around at the conference.

3. He proactively contacted TV stations and newspapers offering to be interviewed about his new "study" he "recently presented" showing that Christmas trees cause allergic reactions to mold. And during these interviews told consumers if they had a farm-grown Christmas tree in their home longer than 10 days, they would suffer from post-nasal drip and other ailments.
That's highly unethical in our view.

What was his motivation for outreaching to news media? Was it purely altruistic pursuit of scientific/medical research? Was it to drum up patients/business for his practice? Was it to beef up a research grant application? Was there any tie to artificial Christmas tree companies? We don't know the answer, but find the whole thing rather suspicious, as did the scientists who signed the White Paper. As their conclusion states:
"The authors of this presentation linked allergenic fungal spores to real Christmas trees without sufficient scientific proof. The data presented are clearly preliminary and the conclusions made by the authors are not supported by sound science due to shortcomings in the experimental design....Due to the aforementioned shortcomings, the conclusion of the study is questionable. Further studies on Christmas trees in indoor environments are necessary to address the public concerns about airborne fungi in the near future."

Obviously, I am writing with a clear bias...won't deny that. But I ask that you understand where our sensitivity comes from. People who sell artificial Christmas trees have spent many years and major dollars trying to convince the public to buy an artificial tree instead of a farm-grown one by telling them they are likely to be allergic to the real thing.

So, if you see any news reports about a "Mold Study", understand where it comes from and that it has no scientific basis. Read the full White Paper on this page


Sandy said...

I don't know you and you don't know me, but rest assured there are plenty of us that cannot have real Christmas trees because of this sensitivity.

Almost everyone in my family gets sick from own mother ended up in the ER the one year my dad brought a real tree home because of her sensitivity.

I cannot even visit a tree farm without becoming ill myself...I found that out the hard way going with a friend to pick out a tree one year.

The only way I can stay healthy through the holidays is staying away from live Christmas trees and evergreen. It has given me a reputation of being antisocial, but my health and well being is more important...others can come and visit me.

While I realize that this comment may never be posted since it against your agenda...keep in mind that you may also be biased in trying to convince people there is no such thing as a sensitivity to Christmas trees and the mold that grows on them and end up in others calling those, like myself, liars.

While the vast majority of those with real trees may never have an issue, there are those of us that do.

Trust me, I would rather have a real tree...they tend to look nicer as the older your fake one gets the more bent and difficult it is to make it look right. You have to put the d*mn thing together and end up with scratches all over you like you have been in a cat fight.

However, many people aren't aware that there could be a health issue with real trees. There could be hundreds of people that are sensitive to trees and get sick every year, but do not know that it may be their tree. They don't realize that by simply eliminating the tree or at least exposure by not keeping the tree in the house for a long period of time could fix their holiday health issues for some people.

Shame on you for trying to debunk this information and potentially making those unaware of this condition suffer through the holidays when there is an alternative.

Rick Dungey said...

Hello Sandy.

Thank you for the feedback and for reading our blog.

At the risk of sounding confrontational, which is NOT my intent, I just have to say I think you missed the point of that particular post. It has nothing to do with trying to convince people who do have an allergy to trees that they are wrong or liars. The point was that the actions of that particular doctor last year were unethical.

And, it wasn't me or any tree farmer who debunked his report. It was plant pathologists and mold experts at a scientific research facility in his own state of Connecticut. The scientists debunked him, I just passed it along. Read the White Paper linked at the bottom of the post. Their reasons are pretty straight forward.

I'm sorry you can't be near conifer trees, indoors or out. I imagine that's extremely difficult because I love the, hiking, riding bike paths through the woods and parks. I feel the same way about people who are allergic to peanuts and can't have peanut butter, or people who are allergic to wheat gluten and can't have beer.

I'm sorry you have to have a fake tree to decorate. Keep in mind also, the allergy experts recommend that people with sensitive allergies hose off their fake tree outside before putting up each year because it can harbor mold, mildew and dust while in storage.

Merry Christmas.

Rick Dungey
Public Relations Manager
National Christmas Tree Assoc.
Nothing Says Christmas Like a Real Tree

Sandy said...

Thank you for coming to my blog!

While I realize that the "study" wasn't perfect, the tone in your article came across as "there is no such thing". When you are telling people that what this person did isn't real science, you are telling those of us who do have issues, and are actually glad that someone finally is realizing it and trying to figure it out, that we are liars.

The study I had read previously about the mold issue had said that the information wasn't complete and that more studies were needed. To me, it was more of a validation to see someone actually try to make a connection. To me, this was the start of the bigger, more scientific studies that need to be done so people like me can have some hard evidence to show to others that don't believe us.

While I can agree that the person who did this really need to do more to make it scientifically acceptable, I felt that you made it clear on your blog and on the other website with the "10 myths" that you either a) didn't believe it at all, or b) relegated the sensitivities that people like me have at "rare" and therefore marginal.

You could have offered solutions for those who think they may have a real tree sensitivity such as not keeping your real tree indoors for more than a few days or a week or at the very least purchase a good quality air cleaner to keep by the tree to help filter out any molds that may be growing on the tree. For some people this maybe all that is needed to have a real tree in the home.

Instead you reverted to the conspiracy theory mentality that that tiny bit of research this man did probably had ulterior motives to help promote artificial trees and gave those that don't believe in such things more ammunition against those like me. To us, that "study" was more of a validation that can lead to bigger and better studies.

While I realize that many so called studies are based in being funded by one side or another to further a goal, many studies aren't or at the very least still offer important information.

amat said...


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Thanks so much , !

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