Acid Rain


Within this past century, acidity of the air and acid rain have become
recognized as one of the leading threats to our planet’s environment. No longer
limited by geographic boundaries, acid causing emissions are causing problems
all over the world. Some laws have been passed which limit the amount of
pollutants that are released into the air, but tougher legislation must be
implemented before this problem can be overcome.
Acid rain is produced, when automobiles, smelters, power plants, and
other industrial factories burn fossil fuels such as gasoline, coal, and fuel
oils. When combusted, the non renewable resources release pollutants such as
sulfur, carbon and nitrogen oxides into the air. These oxide combine with the
humidity in the air and form sulfuric, nitric and carbonic acid. This acidic
solution eventually condenses in the air and comes back down to the earth in any
from of precipitation (snow, rain, hail).
Upon returning to the earth, the acidic precipitation can have serious
repercussions on both the environment and as well as human structures. On
average, acid rain is about nine times more acidic than rain water, and has been
recorded as low as 2.5 on the pH scale (forty times more acidic than water.)
Acid deposition kill fish, soil bacteria, and as well as aquatic and terrestrial
plants. the acid also drain the soil of essential nutrients such as aluminum and
releases them into bodies of water such as streams, lakes, and ponds. These
bodies of water develop highly concentrated levels of these nutrients which can
really harm the aquatic life forms in that area Those areas without any alkaline
metal deposits in the soil to neutralize some of the acid are hurt the most by
this destructive force, destroying crops, trees and even killing an entire pond
or lake. Acid rain is also a strong destructive force against man made
structures, reacting with marble, plastics and rubber.
The problem of acid rain is derived mostly from northern countries such
as the united States, Canada, and many countries of Eastern and Western Europe
including Japan. The consequences of the acid precipitation have been most
apparent in Norway, Sweden, and Canada, however, due to tall smokestacks many
pollutants rise high into the atmosphere where air currents can pick them up and
carry them as far as into an entirely different country. This cross-border issue
is causing global concerns as it is no longer simply one country’s problem.
This concern has been well identified in North America where pollution
emissions from Canada and the U.S. are crossing into each others territory. For
example coal-powered electric generating stations found in Midwestern U.S seem
to be the cause of a severe acid rain problem in eastern Canada.
Acid rain is of strong concern worldwide, and something must be done to
reduce, or hopefully end the problem. The acid kills nearly all forms of life,
and tens of thousands of lakes have already been destroyed by acid rain. Some of
the great monuments of the world such as the cathedrals of Europe and the
Coliseum in Rome are beginning to be eaten away by the acidic rainfall. Many
laws have been passed such as the Clean Air Act of 1970, and the Clean Air Act
of 1990. Both laws have helped in the reduction of acid rain, but much more is
still needed to be done. The second law states a 50% decrease of sulfur dioxide,
and nitrogen oxide, &0% decrease of carbon monoxide, and 20% of other emissions.
Also in 1990, the California Air Resources Board introduced the strictest
vehicle emission controls in the world. Many other northeastern states came up
with similar controls, but California was the toughest, giving the state until
2003 to decrease hydrocarbon emissions of new cars by 70% and to make sure that
al least 105 of all cars produced no harmful emissions. On March 13, 1991,
Canada and the U.S. came up with the Air Quality Accord which includes a 40%
decrease in annual sulfur dioxide emissions by the U.S from the 1980 level by
the year 2000. On December 11 of the same year, Canada came up with the Green
Plan which would contain goals such as a 50% reduction of sulfur dioxide
emissions in Eastern Canada beyond 1994, and an extension of the acid rain
control program to emissions Western Canada.
Many countries feel that the cost of reducing acid rain is too expensive,
but Canada’s progress in reducing sulfur dioxide emissions is proof that a
country’s economy can intertwine with environmental protection. Canada has been
able to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from 6.9 million tones in 1970 to