Is Eating Snow Bad For You?

Because snow acts as sort of an air filter on its way to the ground, the first few minutes of snowfall are going to be the dirtiest. These snowflakes catch the most contaminants as they fall. If you want to eat the cleanest snow, wait until it has been falling for a couple of hours before stick your tongue out (via NPR). Even with that advice, Staci Simonich, a professor of environmental and toxic ecology at Oregon State University, doesn’t believe sneaking a handful of fresh snow will cause any real harm. “That being said, I would not hesitate for my children to have the joy of eating a handful of fresh fallen snow from my backyard,” she said. Because the pesticide concentrations are low and the amount of snow eaten in a handful is small, the one-time dose is very low and not a risk to health.”

What you really want to avoid is snow that isn’t pure white. Avoid anything yellow, brown, or discolored, as well as snow that has any physical particles in it. Try to only eat fresh snow that has fallen on top of other snow. That means scooping it out of your yard and not scraping it off your car or windowsill. You should also stay away from plowed snow, which is often mixed with sand and chemicals from the plow.

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