SUSAN ASKS: With all the chemicals in the air, is snow ice cream still safe to make? I made it as a girl, but that was so long ago.
Good question, Susan. I won’t repeat the age-old lesson about eating a certain colored snow, but I will say that most of us ate snow as children and we turned out okay! So that means, eating snow is safe, right? Well, that depends who you ask.
But first, let’s consider how snow is made. It’s simple really. Snow is created when moisture in the air freezes around a dust particle. So at the very least, with each snowflake you ingest, you’re eating a tiny dust particle, which isn’t so bad when you consider that dust is everywhere around us and we eat it every day. (My apologies if anyone is eating as they read this.)
As for the risks of ingesting airborne chemicals and pollutants when you eat snow, that answer is a little trickier. That’s why we’re going to defer to the experts.
According to Helen Macintosh, an environmental professor at Harvard, as snow falls, it can attract toxins and these toxins are greater with snowfall in or near a city.
It’s not looking good for our plans to make snow cones, is it?
Here are a few other rules-of-thumb, which may or may not be backed up by a Harvard professor. Some say not to eat the first snowfall of the year, because that’s the one that collects all the bad stuff (after that, you can chow down, apparently). Others say that eating snow that falls on top of the Himalayas – or any other tall elevation – is okay because the air up there is cleaner. Good news for those living on Mount Everest.
For our bottom line answer, we’re going to defer to Dr. Lynnette Mazur, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical School, who says, “Licking a little snow off a glove is probably OK. A meal of snow is not.”
The only question now is: How much exactly is a “meal of snow?”