Washingtonian

Important Warning: Don’t Try to Eat Your Way Out of the Snow

Published Tuesday, March 14

Short answer: Nope, don’t eat snow. Contrary to popular dad joke, it’s not only the yellow stuff you have to worry about.

Last winter, a team of Canadian (surprise) scientists determined that snow in urban areas can absorb toxic and carcinogenic pollutants from vehicle exhaust. The McGill University researchers discovered even the clean-looking “white stuff” can absorb significant amounts of airborn pollutants after only an hour.

The scientists ran an experiment, putting snow and exhaust fumes in a cold, sealed chamber to see how they interacted. They found that in only an hour, the snow had removed significant amounts of pollutant particles–such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes–from the air. Dr. Parisa Ariya, a professor of chemistry and atmospheric sciences at McGill who led the research, says the interaction of pollutants and freezing temperatures could even cause the release of new compounds…read the rest here.

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