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 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.
NO DEFENCE 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 substantially.
ACID 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.Ô
ACID RAIN CONSISTS OF....? 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.
Ô 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.
EFFECTS 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 grey enough,
typical visibility has declined from 10 to 4 miles, along
the Eastern seaboard, as acid rain turns into smogs. Also,
now there are indicators that the components of acid rain
are a health risk, linked to human respiratory disease.
PREVENTION 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
STATISTICS 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, twoªthirds 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.
FINAL THOUGHTS 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


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