In this paper, we present new detailed data on the trace metal content of more than 200 shallow polar snow samples collected at various depths in numerous locations mainly in Antarctica and Greenland. The samples were collected in ultraclean plexiglass or teflon tubes from the walls of hand dug pits, using stringent contamination free techniques controlled by severe blank tests. They were then analysed for Na, Mg, K, Ca, Fe, Al, Mn, Pb, Cd, Cu, Zn and Ag in clean room conditions by flameless atomic absorption, after a preconcentration step (by non boiling evaporation in teflon bulbs) which includes dissolving any solid particles by concentrated nitric and hydrofluoric acids. The overall precision on the measured concentrations is of the order of 10 % for all the metals except Pb (20%) and Cd (35%), using 95% confidence limits, The data obtained are compared with those published previously in the literature. Part of these previous data are shown to be erroneously too high, probably because of contamination problems both during field collection and analysis.