Acid Rain

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 sulfuric 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 sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can be transformed into sulfuric acid and nitric acid, and air current can send them thousands of kilometers 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 an acidic one. This is why many lakes in the Muskogee,
Haliburton, Algonquin, Parry Sound and Manitoulin districts could lose their fisheries if sulfur emissions are not reduced substantially.
The average mean of pH rainfall in Ontario’s Muskogee-Haliburton lake country ranges between 3.95 and 4.38 about 40 times more acidic than normal rainfall, while storms in Pennsylvania 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 biphenyl’s (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, soy beans, and peanuts. A wide range of interactions can occur with many unknown 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 continent.
There is evidence that the rain is destroying the productivity of the once rich soils themselves, like an overdose of chemical fertilizer or a gigantic drenching of vinegar. The damage of such overdosing may not be repairable or reversible. On some croplands, tomatoes grow to only half their full weight, and the leaves of radishes wither. Naturally it rains on cities too, eating away stone monuments and concrete structures, and corroding the pipes which channel the water away to the lakes and the cycle is repeated. Paints and automobile paints have its life reduce due to the pollution in the atmosphere speeding up the corrosion process. In some communities the drinking water is laced with toxic metals freed from metal pipes by the acidity. As if urban skies were not already gray enough, typical visibility has declined from 10 to 4 miles, along the eastern seaboard, as acid rain turns into smog. Also, now there are indicators that the components of acid rain are a health risk, linked to human respiratory disease.
However, the acidification of water supplies could result in increased concentrations of metals in plumbing such as lead, copper and zinc which could result in adverse health effects. After any period of non-use, water taps at summer cottages or ski chalets they should run the taps for at least 60 seconds to flush any excess debris.
Although there is very little data, the evidence indicates that in the last twenty to thirty years the acidity of rain has increased in many parts of the United States. Presently, the United States annually discharges more than 26 million tons of suffer dioxide into the atmosphere. Just three states, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois are responsible for nearly a quarter of this total. Overall, two- thirds of the suffer dioxide into the atmosphere over the United States comes from coal-fired and oil fired plants. Industrial boilers, smelters, and refineries contribute 26%; commercial institutions and residences 5%; and transportation 3%. The outlook for future emissions of suffer dioxide is not a bright one. Between now and the year 2000, United States utilities are expected to double the amount of coal they burn. The United States currently pumps some 23 million tons of nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere in the course of the year.
Transportation sources account for 40%; power plants, 30%; industrial sources, 25%; and commercial institutions and residues, 5%. What makes these figures particularly distributing is that nitrogen oxide emissions have tripled in the last thirty years.
Acid rain is very real and a very threatening problem. Action by one government is not enough. In order for things to be done we need to find a way to work together on this for at least a reduction in the contaminates contributing to acid rain. Although there are right steps in the right directions but the government should be cracking down on factories not using the best filtering systems when incinerating or if the factory is giving off any other dangerous fumes. I would like to express this question to you, the public: WOULD YOU RATHER PAY A LITTLE NOW OR A LOT LATER?

acid rain

Impacts of Acid Rain
Air Pollution Creates Acid Rain
Scientists have discovered that air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is the major cause of acid rain. Acidic deposition, or acid rain as it is commonly known, occurs when emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and oxidants to form various acidic compounds. This mixture forms a mild solution of sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Sunlight increases the rate of most of these reactions. These compounds then fall to the earth in either wet form (such as rain, snow, and fog or dry form (such as gas and particles). About half of the acidity in the atmosphere falls back to earth through dry deposition as gases and dry particles. The wind blows these acidic particles and gases onto buildings, cars, homes, and trees. In some instances, these gases and particles can eat away the things on which they settle. Dry deposited gases and particles are sometimes washed from trees and other surfaces by rainstorms. When that happens, the runoff water adds those acids to the acid rain, making the combination more acidic than the falling rain alone. The combination of acid rain plus dry deposited acid is called acid deposition. Prevailing winds transport the compounds, sometimes hundreds of miles, across state and national borders. Mobile sources (transportation) also contribute significantly to NOx emissions. Overall, over 20 million tons of SO2 and NOx are emitted into the atmosphere each year. Acid rain causes acidification of lakes and streams and contributes to damage of trees at high elevations (for example, red spruce trees above 2,000 feet in elevation). In addition, acid rain accelerates the decay of building materials and paints, including irreplaceable buildings, statues, and sculptures that are part of our nation’s cultural heritage. Prior to falling to the earth, SO2 and NOx gases and their particulate matter derivatives, sulfates and nitrates, contribute to visibility degradation and impact public health. Acid rain primarily affects sensitive bodies of water, that is, those that rest atop soil with a limited ability to neutralize acidic compounds (called “buffering capacity”). Many lakes and streams examined in a National Surface Water Survey (NSWS) suffer from chronic acidity, a condition in which water has a constant low pH level. In some sensitive lakes and streams, acidification has completely eradicated fish species, such as the brook trout, leaving these bodies of water barren. In fact, hundreds of the lakes in the Adirondacks surveyed in the NSWS have acidity levels indicative of chemical conditions unsuitable for the survival of sensitive fish species. Streams flowing over soil with low buffering capacity are equally as susceptible to damage from acid rain as lakes are. The acidification problem in both the United States and Canada grows in magnitude if “episodic acidification” (brief periods of low pH levels from snowmelt or heavy downpours) is taken into account. The impact of nitrogen on surface waters is also critical. Nitrogen plays a significant role in episodic acidification. Nitrogen is an important factor in causing eutrophication (oxygen depletion) of water bodies. Acid rain has been implicated in contributing to forest degradation. Acidic deposition seems to impair the trees’ growth in several ways; for example, acidic cloud water at high elevations may increase the susceptibility of the red spruce to winter injury. There also is a concern about the impact of acid rain on forest soils. Sulfur dioxide emissions lead to the formation of sulfate particles in the atmosphere. Sulfate particles account for more than 50 percent of the visibility reduction in the eastern part of the United States. Acid rain and the dry deposition of acidic particles are known to contribute to the corrosion of metals and deterioration of stone and paint on buildings, cultural objects, and cars. The corrosion seriously depreciates the objects’ value to society. Dry deposition of acidic compounds can also dirty buildings and other structures, leading to increased maintenance costs. Based on health concerns, SO2 has historically been regulated under the Clean Air Act. Sulfur dioxide interacts in the atmosphere to form sulfate aerosols, which may be transported long distances through the air. Most sulfate aerosols are particles that can be inhaled. Decreases in nitrogen oxide emissions are also expected to have a beneficial impact on health effects by reducing the nitrate component of inhalable particulates and reducing the nitrogen oxides available to react with volatile organic compounds and form ozone. Ozone impacts on human health include a number of morbidity and mortality risks associated with lung disorders.

Acid Rain

The Damaging Effects of Acid Rain Modern society is becoming overwhelmed with great amounts of pollution from cars, factories and an overabundance of garbage. The immense amounts of sulphur dioxide emitted into the air causes high levels of acid in the atmosphere. When this sulphuric acid is absorbed into moisture in the air, poignant rainfalls can be damaging to the external environment. Acid rain is destroying the world=s lakes, air and ecosystem. Acid rain is killing lakes and decreasing the number of inhabitants in these fresh water bodies. Acid rain causes an ample deduction in the pH levels in the water. At a neutral level the pH in water should be close to seven, yet in these acidic water bodies the pH levels can be as low as four. These pH levels of four contain more than ten percent acids than that of normal rain and one thousand times more acid than neutral water. Each decade the pH levels of lakes around Ontario have become ten times more acidic. The high acid levels contained in lakes also causes a decrease in the number of fish dwelling in these lakes. Also Aacid produces chemical changes in the blood of the fish, and their basic body metabolism is emailprotected (Howard & Perley, 1980, p. 24), and can cause deformities in these inhabitants. They have twisted and arched backbones, flattened heads and strangely curved tails. In pH levels of four there is little left in the lakes besides rock bass, pumpkinseed and lake herring. Affected fish are also in danger of becoming sterile, which would put the species at risk of becoming extinct. As with sulphur dioxide in rain, mercury is also discharged into the water. There is a direct connection between the mercury rich lakes as there is with those with high acidic levels. This metal becomes concentrated in the blood and tissues of fish. Acid rain causes traumatic effects in natural lakes and rivers. Acid rain causes air quality to deteriorate. As in water, acid rain causes the pH levels in the air to decrease. The sulphur dioxide, which diffuses into the air, mixes with moisture causing the pH levels to drop from the normal level. Again, the normal level is somewhere around seven, yet in some acidic air masses the levels can be as low as three. These lowered pH levels form a photochemical smog in the atmosphere. In the air Anitrogen oxides react with ozone and some hydrocarbons in the presence of sunlight to form photochemical smog, the kind of yellow-grey haze which it literally alive and growing in stagnant air emailprotected (Howard & Perley, 1980, p. 44). This smog carries serious risk for respiratory disease and crop damage. The photochemical smog is also causing the ozone layer to disintegrate. The ozone layer is becoming a part of this smog, which is causing holes in it. An inordinate amount of sulphur dioxide is let into the air, more than can be neutralized by nutrients in the air. Decrease in pH levels, photochemical smog and depletion of the ozone layer are some effects of acid rain in the air. The ecosystem is slowly eroding due to the increased amounts of acid in the soil. Acid in the soil in causing the carbon dioxide respiration process to decelerate. In order for plants to go through photosynthesis, they need carbon dioxide. When acid in the soil causing this soil respiration to slow down, in turn it causes the photosynthesis process to slow down. The soil also erodes when the pH levels drop. The acidic levels of the soil cause nutrients in the soils such as aluminum to break apart and the soil to erode. Soil erosion also causes a lower production of plants in the ecosystem. In the soil a process of decay Acalled oligotrophication, means that fewer of the ions of acid are neutralized by the depleted biological community so the acid can cause further degeneration of natural processes, which in turn are less capable of combating the acid, and so on, in an accelerating emailprotected (Howard & Perley, 1980, p. 32). Disruption in the life span of trees and plants is also another effect of acid rain. The acid rain


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