Most of us have been warned about the dangers of eating snow of a certain color, but research has shown that even a pristine white blanket of the stuff can contain pollutants and, now, bacteria. So what’s a kid (or a kid at heart) to do when faced with a luscious layer of crystalline liquid? Run into the house and get a bottle of spring water?
All is not lost, according to pediatric specialists quoted in an Associated Press article carried by Toronto CityNews. While it’s true that snow carries bacteria, it is for the most part a very common strain that we’re exposed to regularly. Many food items carry bacteria that cause no harm to us because our immune defenses are capable of rendering the invading microbes harmless. We also encounter pollutants just by breathing, in most cases in quantities too small to cause illness unless we’re exposed to them for long periods of time.
So when it comes to a little nibble of frosty goodness, just use a little common sense:
1) If your immune system isn’t working as well as it should, stick to throwing snowballs at family members.
2) All things in moderation. A bite of snow isn’t likely to hurt you; a bowlful isn’t a good idea. (Besides, putting too much cold snow in your stomach can speed the onset of hypothermia, which is bad news.)
3) If you’re in an area where the air is frequently polluted, or downwind of such an area, invest in a snow-cone machine.
(Thanks to Linda for the link to the AP article.)