Every Friday, we tackle a bunch of viewers’ burning questions. This week, Heather Brown explores recycling protocol, sleet vs. freezing rain, and why your voice gets lower when you’re sick.

Lauren from Eden Prairie asked: What happens when we put materials in the recycling bin that can’t be recycled? 

According to the folks at Hennepin County, the short answer: It usually goes to the landfill.

When our recycling is picked up, it’s taken to a place where it gets sorted by both hand and machine.

In most metro area facilities, between 2 and 7 percent of recycling ends up not being able to be recycled.

Billie from Plymouth asked: What’s the difference between freezing rain and sleet? 

They both start out as snow. It’s just a matter of how much melting goes on.

“If snow comes down through warm air, melts completely and then freezes when it hits the ground, that’s freezing rain,” WCCO meteorologist Matt Brickman said. “If it doesn’t freeze completely on the way down, comes down with a little pellet of ice and goes through that cold layer in the bottom before hitting the ground as ice — that’s sleet.”

So, if it lands as liquid: freezing rain. If it lands as ice: sleet.

And, if that’s still confusing:

“Just for what hits you in the face, freezing is a heck of a lot softer than a sleet pellet hitting you in the cheek,” Brickman said.

Jacqueline from St. Paul is a singer, and her voice drops an octave when she has a cold. She asked: Why do our voices get deeper when we’re sick?

A speech pathologist from Allina said smaller, thinner vocal cords make higher pitches. Longer, thicker ones make lower pitches, which is part of the reason men’s voices are usually lower than women’s voices.

When you get sick, your vocal cords get inflamed, and when they’ll inflamed, they’ll get larger, which means they’ll vibrate more slowly and give you a lower pitch.

 

Heather Brown

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