Snow Gets Toxic In Air: Study

Posted: Jan 20 2016, 7:04am CST | by , Updated: Jan 20 2016, 9:53pm CST , in Latest Science News


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Snow Gets Toxic in Air: Study
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  • Do Not Eat Even White Snow

Extra care ought to be taken that snow not be consumed by kids in big cities. This counts whether the snow is yellow or not.

The term “pure as a snowflake” may be alright as far as literary metaphors are anything to go by, but in real life it is a different situation. Snowflakes are hardly pure.

They absorb pollutants and toxic elements from the atmosphere on their journey to the earth. Most of the effluent matter consists of car exhaust fumes. It is not only very unhealthy if ingested but can prove to be cancer-causing in its effects.

Some new compounds are formed when the cold conditions interact with the snow and the pollutants. This is a health hazard in the making alright. Snowflakes have active sites on their surface that absorb certain gases and polluting agents.

Mothers should especially be vigilant regarding their children eating any snow in urban areas. However, that is no cause for alarmism. The risks are minimal. Scientists put snow and pollutants in the form of car exhaust fumes in a chamber in order to observe their interaction.

"Snow flakes are ice particles with various types of surfaces, including several active sites, that can absorb various gaseous or particulate pollutants," Dr. Parisa Ariya, professor of chemistry and atmospheric sciences at McGill University in Canada and lead author of the study, told Huffington Post.

"As a mother who is an atmospheric physical chemist, I definitely do not suggest my young kids to eat snow in urban areas in general."

Snow seemed to be a marvelous agent that removed the toxic vehicular fumes from the air. Such pollutants as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene collected in the snow rapidly.

Several of these chemicals are bad for human health. This latest public health threat should serve as a warning that things we consider to be benign are actually dangerous.

The debate on climate change that is going on must pay attention to snow in big city life as well. The cities where it is snowing will need to inform the families with children to prevent their kids from consuming snow whatever its color.

The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as clean snow today. We are living in times of pollution and so the pure and the natural has long since departed from the geo-sphere.

Even a drizzle should be called acid rain since it contains deadly chemicals. This study of snow pollutants is just a start in the search for toxic elements in the environment. More research needs to be done regarding the matter.

This study was published in the journal Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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