A group of scientists in Canada looked at how snow interacted with pollutant chemicals–specifically those found in car exhausts. After only an hour, they speculated, snow in urban areas would absorb an unhealthy amount of air pollutants.
The study involved mixing chemicals often found in car exhaust into a chamber full of snow, measuring how much of each chemical was found in the snow after an hour. The team looked at benzene (a known carcinogen), toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes.
The scientists told the Royal Society of Chemistry that more studies need to be done to determine where these chemicals go when snow melts and how changes int emperature may affect the findings.
The World Health Organization says air pollution is responsible for one in eight total deaths.