WASHINGTON - With their twinkling lights, shiny tinsel and festive ornaments, Christmas trees can bring plenty of joy into your home at this time of the year.
But they also can make you sick.
The Week reports that researchers at State University of New York's Upstate Medical University say Christmas tree mold spores can be blamed for a range of respiratory and other health problems, from sneezing to insomnia.
The spores -- brought indoors from their normal outdoor homes -- can even touch off bronchitis and pneumonia.
WTOP Garden Editor Mike McGrath says sickness spawned by tree-borne spores is "a relatively common thing."
"There are many molds that are ubiquitous out in the forests," McGrath says. "Sometimes you get one coming in on a Christmas tree."
Among the ways to avoid getting sick: Buy an artificial tree, or hose down a natural one outside before drying it out and bringing it into the home.
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WTOP's Dick Uliano contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.
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