acid rain

Kyle Vesely


GLG 100

Acid rain is a serious problem with disastrous effects. Each day this serious
problem increases, many people believe that this issue is too small to deal with
right now this issue should be met head on and solved before it is too late. In
the following paragraphs I will be discussing the impact has on the wildlife and
how our atmosphere is being destroyed by acid rain.


Acid rain is a cancer eating into the face of Eastern Canada and the North
Eastern United States. In Canada, the main sulphuric acid sources are non
ferrous smelters and power generation. On both sides of the border, cars and
trucks are the main sources for nitric acid(about 40% of the total), while power
generating plants and industrial commercial and residential fuel combustion
together contribute most of the rest. In the air, the sulphur dioxide and
nitrogen oxides can be transformed into sulphuric acid and nitric acid, and air
current can send them thousands of kilometres from the source.When the acids
fall to the earth in any form it will have large impact on the growth or the
preservation of certain wildlife.


Areas in Ontario, mainly southern regions that are near the Great Lakes, such
substances as limestone or other known antacids can neutralize acids entering
the body of water thereby protecting it. However, large areas of Ontario that
are near the Pre Cambrian Shield, with quartzite or granite based geology and
little top soil, there is not enough buffering capacity to neutralize even small
amounts of acid falling on the soil and the lakes. Therefore over time, the
basic environment shifts from an alkaline to a acidic one. This is why many
lakes in the Muskoka, Haliburton, Algonquin, Parry Sound and Manitoulin
districts could lose their fisheries if sulphur emissions are not reduced


The average mean of pH rainfall in Ontario\'s Muskoka Haliburton lake country
ranges between 3.95 and 4.38 about 40 times more acidic than normal rainfall,
while storms in Pennsilvania have rainfall pH at 2.8 it almost has the same
rating for vinegar. Already 140 Ontario lakes are completely dead or dying. An
additional 48 000 are sensitive and vulnerable to acid rain due to the
surrounding concentrated acidic soils.


Canada does not have as many people, power plants or automobiles as the
United States, and yet acid rain there has become so severe that Canadian
government officials called it the most pressing environmental issue facing the
nation. But it is important to bear in mind that acid rain is only one segment,
of the widespread pollution of the atmosphere facing the world. Each year the
global atmosphere is on the receiving end of 20 billion tons of carbon dioxide,
130 million tons of suffer dioxide, 97 million tons of hydrocarbons, 53 million
tons of nitrogen oxides, more than three million tons of arsenic, cadmium, lead,
mercury, nickel, zinc and other toxic metals, and a host of synthetic organic
compounds ranging from polychlorinated biphenyls(PCBs) to toxaphene and other
pesticides, a number of which may be capable of causing cancer, birth defects,
or genetic imbalances.


Interactions of pollutants can cause problems. In addition to contributing to
acid rain, nitrogen oxides can react with hydrocarbons to produce ozone, a major
air pollutant responsible in the United States for annual losses of $2 billion
to 4.5 billion worth of wheat, corn, soyabeans, and peanuts. A wide range of
interactions can occur many unknown with toxic metals. In Canada, Ontario alone
has lost the fish in an estimated 4000 lakes and provincial authorities
calculate that Ontario stands to lose the fish in 48 500 more lakes within the
next twenty years if acid rain continues at the present rate.Ontario is not
alone, on Nova Scotia\'s Eastern most shores, almost every river flowing to the
Atlantic Ocean is poisoned with acid. Further threatening a $2 million a year
fishing industry.

Acid rain is killing more than lakes. It can scar the leaves of hardwood
forest, wither ferns and lichens, accelerate the death of coniferous needles,
sterilize seeds, and weaken the forests to a state that is vulnerable to disease
infestation and decay. In the soil the acid neutralizes chemicals vital for
growth, strips others from the soil and carries them to the lakes and literally
retards the respiration of the soil. The rate of forest growth in the White
Mountains of New Hampshire has declined 18% between 1956 and 1965, time of
increasingly intense acidic rainfall. Acid rain no longer falls exclusively on
the lakes, forest, and thin soils of the Northeast it now covers half the


There is evidence