In the 1976 film “Marathon Man,” Lawrence Olivier uttered one of the most chilling lines in the history of cinema: “Is it safe?” Though it was decidedly not safe in this instance, concern over what’s safe and what’s not is evident online. Just Google “is it safe” and you’ll find some interesting questions. At the suggestion of a Facebook friend, I did just that, and here’s what I found:
Is it safe to eat snow? “Actually it depends on how much contamination is in the air the snow falls in. If you are in a heavily polluted city, odds are the snow has lots of contaminants in it from auto exhaust, factory emissions, etc. That snow is not too healthy to eat. However, in rural or suburban areas, eating a little snow probably wouldn’t hurt.” Source: teacher.scholastic.com
Is it safe to microwave styrofoam? “Styrofoam is the brand name of a plastic product (yes, Styrofoam is a kind of plastic) whose generic name is polystyrene. The white foam used, for example, in hot beverage drinking cups isn’t the only kind of polystyrene used for food: Clear plastic “clamshell” containers are also made of polystyrene. Contrary to popular belief, some Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers can safely be used in the microwave. Just follow the same rule you follow for other plastic containers: Check the label.” Source: health.harvard.edu
Is it safe to follow the HCG diet? “The safety of HCG for weight loss is uncertain, and the hormone hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for obesity or weight control. ... The key to permanent weight loss is developing healthy eating and exercise habits — not following fad diets.” Source: mayoclinic.com/health/hcg-diet
Is it safe to get or have a tattoo during pregnancy? “It’s best to wait until after having your baby to get one. Here’s why: Hepatitis B, a dangerous liver infection, and HIV/AIDS are two of many diseases that can be passed along through bodily fluids. This means you can catch these diseases if you get a tattoo from someone who uses a dirty needle. And you can pass these diseases along to your baby during pregnancy. We don’t know how tattoo dyes and inks affect a developing baby. Small amounts of chemicals that might be harmless to an adult can have a much bigger impact on a growing baby.” Source: marchofdimes.com/pregnancy
Is it safe to get a flu shot during pregnancy? “Yes, it’s safe to get an influenza (flu) shot during pregnancy. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for anyone who’s pregnant during flu season — typically November through January or even later — unless you’ve had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccination.” Source: mayoclinic.com/health/influenza
Is it safe to use an ear candle? “Ear candling — a technique that involves placing a lit, hollow, cone-shaped candle into the ear canal — can cause serious injury and isn’t considered an effective treatment for any condition.” Source: mayoclinic.com
Is it safe to get medical advice online? Only if you consider the source.