If you happen to be licking a giant snowball while reading this, you might want to put it down.

Canadian researchers have found that potentially dangerous chemicals found in car exhaust accumulate in snow — and mingling of the pollutants and cold can also produce new compounds.

The study’s results focused on urban areas, but those kinds of chemicals are also found in more remote areas, like European mountain ranges, Kevin McGuire, associate professor of hydrology at Virginia Tech, told the The Atlantic’s CityLab.

[MORE: Bangor ranks high nationally for clean air as Maine smog gets worse]

HuffPost explains the science:

The researchers analyzed how snow interacts with exhaust-derived particles and pollutants by putting both snow and exhaust fumes in a chamber. After examining the chemical reactions that took place, the researchers discovered that snow was efficient at removing pollutant particles from the air.

Within an hour, the snow accumulated numerous chemicals found in exhaust, like benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylenes.

Featured article image used under Creative Commons.

Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the...