'American Horror Story' Tooth Storms Would Save Forests IRL


A lot of deeply sick things happened in the season six premiere of American Horror Story last night, not least of which was the clattering hailstorm of raining teeth. We can’t blame Shelby for her bewilderment: It’s not every day one runs into a tempest, only to find that the rattling was caused by a barrage of dislodged molars. That’s some Biblical-level plague shit! But it wouldn’t be the worst thing for the planet if it happened IRL.

That’s because the calcium contained in a dental outpour would probably counteract the forest-killing effects of acid rain, which is only getting worse as emissions from vehicles and factories continue to build up in the atmosphere. In fact, scientists pre-empted the AHS tooth storm in 1999, spreading 40 tons of dry calcium pellets over an acid rain-damaged watershed in an attempt to find out how fertilization with the mineral could help. The follow-up study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters in 2013, reported that the rain of calcium “teeth,” fifteen years prior, had helped restore the forests’ health.

Tooth rain saves forests, but it might not save Shelby!

Acid rain forms when the exhaust from our fossil-fuel cars and factories reacts with water in the atmosphere and falls down as corrosive droplets. As it falls, it doesn’t just strip trees of their foliage; in the soil, it leaches out naturally occurring nutrients — like calcium — which forests need to survive. In the study, which was carried out in New Hampshire’s Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest — not that far off from Manteo Island, North Carolina, where Roanoke’s lost colony was thought to have settled — areas that were treated to a tooth storm produced 21 percent more wood and 11 percent more leaves.

If the rules of natural science apply to AHS, Shelby might be in for a rough couple of weeks. The last we saw her, she was lost in the woods — which, newly fertilized with a deluge of dental calcium, could now be well on their way to a massive outgrowth of light-obfuscating, path-obscuring foliage and lumber. Let’s hope, for her sake, the original owners of the falling teeth skimped on their dairy.

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