Well it happened. The first snowfall of THE SEASON. As we nestle into our new home in Ontario, we must face the fact that winter Tis the season more often than Tis not. Ditto for the white stuff, which will soon become brown stuff as everyone likes to remind me.
Though my husband and I have little use for snow (a White Christmas Day would suffice) our kids are excited to have a new use for their sand toys. The other day as I stepped away from the window to grab the camera and prove to my friends in the west that we are in fact nuts, my daughter scooped up a generous helping of snow and licked her mittens right down to the wool. I laughed and told her to stick her tongue out to catch some flakes, knowing her little brother would watch and do the same. But, as I snapped the photo the green meanie suddenly came over me…Is it safe for kids to eat snow?
We all know that the old line, “well we did it and we all turned out fine” is hardly true. Just as the times have changed, so has the snow. According to Helen Suh Macintosh, an environmental professor at Harvard, falling snow attracts toxins quite easily. In a report on Treehugger, Macintosh suggests that if you’re living anywhere near a city you can assume your snow is doing its fair share of collecting:
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.
In other words, don’t let the pureness factor of the white stuff fool you. But even if we know better, does that mean we’re going to stop our kids from their usual sampling, even if we could. As one mom on www.mothering.com said, “short of putting a space helmet on” the kids there is no stopping them. Last winter the International Herald Tribune investigated this very concern. In its conclusion, Dr. Lynnette Mazur, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical School had this advice for parents: “Licking a little snow off a glove is probably OK…A meal of snow is not.” That sounds like a fair compromise, though I don’t know if my four year old will agree.
Do you let your kids eat snow?
[This post was written by Tara Benwell.]