Weather Questions: How Safe Is It To Eat Illinois Snow?
Just go ahead and admit it. You've eaten Illinois snow before. I know it, you know it, and the American people know it. Depending on how you grew up (meaning what kind of parents you had), this was either something you did around here when it snowed, or it was something you did around here when it snowed---then got yelled at by your mom.
For me personally, it was the second one. As a kid, we did it all the time, but I knew that if my mom saw it, I would be scolded for it, then I would be informed of all the bad things that were in snow, then I would be hit with the very common warning to not eat this:
Before We Get To Whether Or Not Illinois Snow Is Fit For Human Consumption, Let's Just Go Ahead And Say You Should Definitely Not Eat Icicles That Hang Off Your Roof
Which is somewhat of a bummer, because I ate a lot more icicles that were hanging off the gutters than I ate snow. After learning that icicles are full of dirt, salt, carbon, fur, bacteria, dust, and most frighteningly, bird poop, I'm still wondering why my mom gave me a full pass to eat them.
Just keep in mind that everything that's been sitting on your roof becomes part of the icicles hanging off of it, so....well...just ewwww.
Getting Back On Track, Here's The Bottom Line On Whether Or Not You Should Eat Illinois Snow
It turns out that like most things, eating snow in moderation is probably not going to hurt you, but you should be aware that snow, like the icicles we talked about, can be full of impurities.
“It is safe in small quantities,” says Diane Calello, M.D., medical and executive director of New Jersey Poison Information and Education System and associate professor of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “A small amount is non-toxic.” (Think: taking a bite out of a snowball.)
Depending on what’s in your snow, you could end up with an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, or possibly even an infection if you eat too much. Still, she stresses “that would take a lot of snow.”
Therefore, it's always best to wait an hour or two before eating falling snow — chances are it will be cleaner. Of course, if the snow looks dirty (or yellow), it's best to avoid it altogether. The snow found on roads or walkways is likely contaminated with dirt and grime — and who knows what else — so bacteria and other organisms will likely get someone sick.
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