Don’t Make a ‘Meal’ of Snow

Parents are always telling their children to stay away from the yellow snow – but is any snow really safe for kids to eat? Snow contains large quantities of Pseudomonas syringae, a type of bacteria that causes diseases in tomato and bean plants.

Researchers have analyzed 20 samples of snow taken from various places around the world, such as Montana , the Yukon and Antarctica . The bacteria levels were high in all the samples. The most widespread bacteria in all samples proved to be Pseudomonas syringae.

With this knowledge, scientists began to wonder what effect the bacteria had on human health. The conclusion garnered from the study was that Pseudomonas syringae is neither a good guy nor a bad guy. This uncertainty thus leaves parents wondering what to do, but experts say there is not much cause for worry. The types of bacteria found in the atmosphere, and ultimately in snow, are not human pathogens and don’t cause disease.

Children practically bathe in bacteria every time they are out in the playground, says Dr. Penelope Dennehy, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and they won’t get anything from snow that they wouldn’t get from dirt. Most importantly, there are no clinical reports about children becoming ill from snow eating, so moderation is key.

Here are a few safety tips to remind your children, once that first snowfall hits the ground:

  • Licking the snow off a glove is likely to be fine. Having a “meal” of snow is probably not a good idea.
  • Make sure your child does not eat a lot of snow. It also contains particles from ordinary air pollution.
  • Catching a snowflake on the tongue is OK. Eating snow that’s on the ground is not OK.