Should kids eat snow?

Last week I got to teach Mason’s preschool class (we do a coop).  For at least the first 15 minutes of class, all the kids wanted to talk about was the newly fallen snow.  In the end, we came to the consensus that EVERYONES favorite activity to do in the snow was to eat it (gotta love that group mentality).  By the time we finished school, both kids were begging to play in the snow, so I started the laborious task of getting all their snow gear on.  Playing in the snow is awesome, but getting everyone’s warm clothes on is something I absolutely hate.  After what seemed like forever, I sent the kids outside thinking they’d spend a few hours happily playing.  As I was getting my boots on to join them, Chloe comes in the house, puts some snow in a cup, and starts ripping off her snow clothes as fast as she could.  The same snowclothes I had just fought to get her to wear.  “Chloe, what are you doing!”  “I a big kid Mommy.  Big kids dus eat snow.”  I always knew that my kids would learn obnoxious things at school, but she’s just two!  There was no changing that stubborn little mind of hers!

This got me thinking – “should kids be eating snow”.  Well, the simple answer is “we all do it and we’re still alive, so why not!”  Good one.  It’s easy to get our kids to not eat the yellow or brown snow, but what about the white fluffy stuff all over the ground?  Here’s what Helen Suh MacIntosh, a professor of environmental health at Harvard University had to say about it here:

“It turns out that snow is a fairly efficient pollution collector when it is in the air. Snow is formed by water vapor that moves in clouds in cold air. As the water vapor moves in the cold air, it can stick to a tiny piece of dust and then have other water molecules attach to it, forming a crystal. Once formed, the crystal can continue to grow and can stay in the air for hours before it falls to the ground. It is during this time that the snow crystal can collect or “scavenge” pollutants that are present in the air.  The types of pollution that the snow can contain vary by location, but could include metals, acidic pollutants, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The amount of pollution in white, fresh snow is generally related to the amount of local pollution that is emitted into the air, of which traffic is a pretty good indicator. As a result, pollution is snow is low in rural areas and is higher in cities and other areas with a lot of traffic.”

The study went on to say that although these pollutants are present, the amount of pollutants are very low.  The verdict that they shared is that freshly fallen white snow is usually safe to eat (as long as it’s not bucket-fulls).  However, we should encourage our kids to avoid eating colored snow or white snow that has been on the ground for a while.  Thank goodness, because while eating snow isn’t the best thing in the world, I won’t be stopping my kids from doing it anytime soon!

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