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Snow tends to absorb car Exhaust Pollutants
Parisa Ariya, a chemist at McGill University in Montreal, along with her colleagues conducted a research to assess whether the snow is capable of absorbing up toxic pollutants emitted by the car exhaust.
The research, carried out in Montreal where it snows for around 5 months a year, is proving to be important for scientists to get an insight into the behavior of chemicals present in snow during the cold weather. The comprehensive data on this behavior can be instrumental in the creation of improved laws and technologies to enhance the quality of air.
The research involved constructing a glass ‘snow chamber’, which was a closed environment without any wind complexities and other pollutants. The team studies the interaction of snow with the exhaust.
A portable generator, running on gasoline, was used to produce exhaust. In a wooden area of a public park just west of downtown Montreal, called Mount Royal Park, fresh snow was collected. The experiment involved the imitation of a situation where exhaust is emitted by a vehicle tailpipe and the dilution and spreading of that exhaust in the air, through which it comes in contact with snowpack.
The snow collected from park already consisted of the pollutants benzene and toluene. Subsequent to an hour in the snow chamber, the levels of the benzene and toluene increased significantly, along with the addition of ethylbenzene and xylenes pollutants.
The aerosol particles’ size distribution, present in the exhaust, was also modified by the snow. The research was to understand the effect of cold and snowy weather on pollutants and not to find if the snow is fit for eating. Ariya said, “Snow flakes are ice particles with various types of surfaces, including several active sites, that can absorb various gaseous or particulate pollutants.” The primary challenge is to understand the effect of snow in real-world conditions.