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The old saying that you shouldn’t eat yellow snow has been around for centuries up to this point, but according to a study conducted at McGill University in Canada, snow should not be ingested regardless of its color. This study comes a month prior to a World Health Organization research regarding air pollutants.
Because snowflakes present active areas across their surface, they can absorb pollutants while falling from the sky. But that does not stop there, because according to the study, once on the ground, pollutant absorption gains a massive increase in speed.
The research was based on applying toxic pollutants emitted by car exhaust pipes, commonly found within urban areas, on a patch of isolated snow inside a laboratory. By doing this, the team was able to see how snow effectively removed air pollutants from the enclosed environment, storing them within its structure.
After subjecting the patch of snow to exhaust fumes for an hour, the team concluded that the amount of pollutants encapsulated within it reached health-threatening levels. The chemicals that are considered to be severely detrimental to one’s health were benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes. Out of the ones mentioned, benzene is proven to be a potent substance that can lead to the onset of cancer, known as carcinogens.
If one would take into account the fact that the snow was exposed to pollutants only for an hour, it’s safe to say that the snow outside has an exponentially greater amount of air pollutants. But this factor does differ from area to area. The research team based their study only on urban environments, leaving rural areas with close to none pollutant emissions out of the picture.
In order to create a better model that shows how snow encapsulates air and ground pollutants, the team has admitted that further studies have to be conducted with several different factors in mind. Some of these modifications will be based on the amount of pollutants present in the air at any given time, the general climate of the area, as well as the amount of snow present on location.
Although the idea that snow should not be ingested regardless of its color might seem common knowledge at first glance, the concept raises a pretty important topic in regards to the amount of air pollutants present in the area and the way through which snow can somewhat decrease it. But in order for that to be completely proven, the team has to take into account climate change as well, because regular snow pattern models have shifted due to the increase in temperatures.