As kids (and sometimes as adults), most, if not all of us, chowed down on a snowball or handful of snow. It turns out that maybe we should phase that out of our diets.

With the forecast predicting several inches of the white stuff throughout the weekend, there will be plenty of opportunity for shoveling, scraping, playing in, and/or throwing snow around the Rockford area.

You should, however, avoid consuming mouthfuls of the stuff if at all possible. That's according to none other than Chicago's most-trusted and longtime meteorologist Tom Skilling of WGN-TV.

A viewer wrote to Tom Skilling and pointed out that she sees neighborhood kids "sometimes eating snow," and asked Tom if eating snow is a safe thing to do.

The wise-acre answer is something about avoiding the yellow snow, but Tom Skilling took her question seriously, and gave her a serious answer:

It is not a good practice. It’s not that snow would prove to be immediately toxic, but it is possible that the snow might contain traces of chemicals you really don’t want to eat. This is especially true in and around urban areas (like Chicago).
Snowflakes can contain many of the chemicals that fall in acid rain. Using fresh fallen snow as your dessert might introduce sulfates, nitrates, acids, various types of particulates, lead and possibly even traces of naturally radioactive beryllium; even bacteria can be found in snow. And in countries that still burn coal, the snow might also include fly ash (airborne bits of unburnable ash). To repeat: Eating snow is not recommended.

So, there you have it. Coat, hat, and gloves on. Mouths closed, please.

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