Fake Trees: What You Don't Know
Can Hurt You
Why did the USDA quarantine some artificial trees?
Some fake trees have a wooden center pole. In 2004, the U.S. Department of Agriculture placed a quarantine on fake trees from China, which had a potentially harmful beetle in the center pole.
Who decided to make a fake Christmas tree?
Actually fake trees were invented by a company who made toilet bowl brushes, the Addis Brush Company. Regardless of how far the technology has come, it's still interesting to know the first fake Christmas trees were really just big green toilet bowl brushes. Read the article.
Are fake trees really fireproof?
Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires are the most common causes of holiday fires in residences - these are just as likely to affect artificial trees as Real Trees. See below for an example:
Lights on Christmas Tree Spark KC House Fire
In 2004, the Farmington Hills Fire Department in metropolitan Detroit conducted a test of how real and artificial trees react in a house fire. The artificial tree, which was advertised as "flame retardant," did resist the flames for an amount of time, but then was engulfed in flames and projected significant heat and toxic smoke, containing hydrogen chloride gas and dioxin.
Below are the before, during and after photos of the artificial tree.
Compare the above photos to those of the well-cared-for Real Tree, which remained mostly intact, as seen below:
Are fake trees better for the environment?
As mentioned before, most artificial trees are manufactured in China and contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride). In fact, artifical Christmas Trees were recently added to the Center for Health, Environment & Justice's list of household products containing PVC.
According to the Children's Health Environmental Coalition, the manufacture of PVC creates and disperses dioxins, which include the most toxic man-made chemical known. Released into air or water, dioxins enter the food chain, where they accumulate in fatty tissues of animals and humans, a potential risk for causing cancer, damaging immune functions and impairing children's development.
This issue is especially concerning due to China's weak enforcement of environmental regulations. Delta Farm Press recently addressed China's environmental crisis in this article.