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« Mr G on himself; Me on not breaking our kids | Main | Fragility of life »

January 13, 2009


Mrs. Higrens

I guess it's true what they (used to) say about us all eating a peck of dirt before we die, huh?


I'm caught between not wanting to be too paranoid about my daughter eating dirt (at this time of year generally in the form of snow and icicles) and being worried about toxins like lead and chemicals. What's the real scoop on how poisonous rain and snow are??


@Maria, it really depends on what you're down-wind from, for rain and snow, and what was in that air mass, and how far it went before it got here, and how long it has been raining/snowing, and where the melt is coming from for the icicles (old asphalt roof shingle, or cedar shingle, or slate?).

I try to not use house icecicles for eating, but a lick or two won't freak me out much. Snow, not the first snow (deepest layer anyway, with the most cleaning of the atmoshpere presumed at that point), and prefer it to have been snowing a while first - but each snowflake is formed on particulates anyway - dust or chemical or smog or smoke. How toxic, still, has to do with what's nearby (1, 3, 5, 20 miles). We have an auto assembly plant near us, and can sometimes smell the chemicals from painting the vehicles. (Or could before they shut down the plant.) That's a huge toxin producer, and we're downwind. Even though the yard hasn't been treated with pesticides in general (barring things I know about, infrequently) for 20 years plus (my mom owned it before us), I have no way to measure what of the paint toxins from the air have dropped into the soil here.

It's probably bad to say 'moderation' in response to 'toxic snow' but... without an in-depth analysis, I just can't know for sure what is and is not a risk, and how much. Mostly, my kids don't eat much stuff they don't need to, but one (Miss M) has always been big on eating the inedible, including dirt. It is more the overall high-risk behavior that I worry about, not the normal consumption of the odd stuff. Cumulative risk is more my worry.

Not at all helpful, I guess.

Katie B.

God made dirt, so dirt don't hurt? Or something. I guess I'll stop being quite so paranoid about the Infanta licking floors and chewing on shoes... I never was in the "everything must be super sanitized" camp, anyway.

I had more to say, but Herself is in need of a nap.


Hear hear! My ex-ILs are constantly on the dirt patrol, taking all sorts of stuff out of the prince's mouth and cleaning the toys NIGHTLY. I have to confess - the only time I cleaned his toys was when he had norovirus (or if they get particularly cruddy), and I don't have a hissy fit if he eats food that he's dropped on the floor (this happens a LOT). The prince really hates it when the ILs take stuff away from him, because he's too young to understand why. So I generally let him 'explore'. But when we are with the ILs I do get this horrible 'bad mother' complex when I see how conscientious they are about the dirt issue. They never comment on my laxness, but I'm sure they must have an opinion... And being a first-timer, I'm always questioning myself!


Growing up, my paternal grandmother (a nurse) used to tell a story about a child in her neighborhood whom was raised by an obsessivly 'sterile' mother; when the child was first exposed to other children at school, he got so ill he very nearly died - From the kinds of bugs that other kids routinely shrug off. It creates a kind of self-confirming paranioa; she kept the kid sterile, and nothing bad happened to him. When he was exposed to 'dirty' children, he got deathly ill; Obviously, sterile is the way to go! I've never forgotten the story, nor the paradoxical (and logical) conclusion, and have born it in mind while raising my children.

Grubby is a normal state of affairs for children. You don't want them to *stay* like that, but it's normal, expected, and beneficial for them to *get* that way, and fairly often. I've never had much problem with dirt - I like being clean, but dirt never scared me. My children are the same way, and it seems, well, natural to me. Considering that I grew up around domestic agricultural animals, and spend a lot of time cleaning dog kennels, I daresay I'm well on my way towards my personal 'peck o' dirt,' and my children are probably not too far behind. ;-)

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