Acid Rain Essay

Length: 1293 words

Acid Rain is caused by pollution containing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and ozone that is released into the air. These chemicals are absorbed into clouds and results in Acid Presipitation ( Acid Rain, Acid Snow, Acid Hail, Acid Sleet ). When the chemicals aren’t absorbed into the clouds, they can drift for miles and fall to the ground, resulting in Acid Deposition, or dry deposition.

When Acid Rain falls into water it is mixed in with the normal water and causes the pH of the entire body to be raised. Measurments on the pH scale, rise greatly; a lake with a pH of 4 is ten times as acidic as a lake with a pH of 5, and a lake with a pH of 3 is 100 times as acidic, After many rain falls of Acid rain, the pH of a normal lake would go from 5.8 to 4.

Acid Rain has been known to reach the acidity of pH 2, ( battery acid has a pH if 1 ) this is a drastic change, as normal rain is average pH 5.2. (Brown, 1999)

Acid Rain can dissolve limestone and chalk, and corrodes outdoor structures. Statues and monuments that are

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Acid Rain reacts to different types of soil and rocks in two ways:
1) Acid rain will dissolve alkaline rocks and soil, or will neutralize the alkalinity.
2) Acid rain will increase the acidity of already acidic rocks and soil such as granite, or the soil which results comes from corroded granite.

Acidic chemicals, and alkaline chemicals react to each other by reducing the alkalinity or acidity of each other. Which ever has the strongest pH level, usually will neutralize or reduce the pH of the other, but after the reaction is complete both substances have undoubtably changed. Their pH moved closer to neutral ( pH 7 ). This led to the use of Salting.

Salting ( dropping salt, chalk, or limestone into lakes and streams ) is a done to reduce the acidity of the water, and neutralize it reverse the effects of the acid rain. This involves tones of salt and an Airplane with a bombay. This is only a temporary solution because putting salt into the water will not stop the acid rain from coming, it just neutralizes what is already there. (Sheets,1998)

There have been many attempts to reduce the production of acid rain. In order to make this attempt; the emission of sulfur dioxide must be reduced. One way of doing this was by passing the Clean Air Act. The 1990 Clean Air Act’s sulfur dioxide reduction program, will complement health-based sulfur dioxide pollution limits already in place to protect the public and the environment from both nearby and distant sources of sulfur dioxide.

The law sets up a market-based system designed to lower sulfur dioxide pollution levels. Beginning in the year 2000, annual releases of sulfur dioxide will be about forty percent lower than the 1980 levels. Reducing sulfur dioxide releases should cause a major reduction in acid rain. The reduction is accomplished in two phases.

Phase 1 of the program went into effect January 1, 1995.4 Big coal-burning boilers in one hundred and ten power plants in twenty-one Midwest, Appalachian, Southeastern and Northeastern states will have to reduce the release of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide omissions. As a result of Phase I, acid rain concentrations have lowered by twenty five percent.

In 2000, Phase 2 of the acid rain program goes into effect, reducing the sulfur dioxide released from the big coal-burning power plants even more. They will require them to install systems that monitor emissions in order to track progress. (Smith, 1998)

A manufacturer must consider proximity to transportation routes and the location of both the source of raw materials and the market for the product. The raw materials have to be transported to the plant, and the final product must be transported to the customer or distributor. Economic pros and cons must also be thought about. For example, must sulfuric plants are located near the market because it costs more to transport sulfuric acid than the main raw materials, sulfur. Elaborate commission proof container are required for the transportation of sulfuric acid while sulfur can be much more easily transported by truck or railway car.

For a sulfuric acid plant to operate, the plant must employ chemists, technicians, administrators, computer operators, and people in sales and marketing. A large number of workers will also be required for the daily operation of the plant. A work force of this diversity is therefore likely to be found only near major centres of population.

Energy Demands Large amounts of energy will also be required for the production of many industrial chemicals. Thus, proximity to a plentiful supply of energy is often a determining factor in deciding the plant’s location.

Environmental Concerns Most importantly, however, concerns about the environment must be carefully taken into consideration. The chemical reaction of changing sulfur and other substances to sulfuric acid results in the formation of other substances like sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain. Therefore, there is a big problem about sulfuric plants causing damage to our environment as the plant is a source of sulfur emission leading to that of acid rain. (Williams, 1989)

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%.

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. (Alm, 1997)


Acid rain has been a subject of debate especially because of the widespread environ-mental damage it is responsible for. As one of the major results of air pollution, acid rain can corrode metal and limestone structures, contaminate important minerals, decreased fertility of soils, and lower pH in lakes and ponds. For those who fear “the end of the world,” acid rain may pose a threat as it creates a bad environment for both animal and human. And for those who care about our planet, maybe it is about time we stop destroying it and give something back to Mother Earth


Fred Pearce, “Acid Rain. What is it and what is it doing to us?” Penguin Publishing House, 1987.

Stone William, “Acid Rain. Fiend or Foe?” New York Publishers, 1989

Gail Steward, “Acid Rain” Lucent books, Inc. 1990.

Leslie R. Alm, “Scientists and the Acid Rain policy in Canada and the US.” Science, Technology, and Human Values, 1997, 349
“Acid Rain: Bad News About The Good News” Business Week, 25 October 1999.

Anne E. Smith, Jeremy Platt, A. Denny Ellerman, “The cost of reducing SO2: It’s (higher than you think)” Public Utilities Fortnightly, 15 May 1998.

Raymond Brown, “Acid Rain-A Definition”14 April 1999

Edward J. Nuanes, “Whats being done? What is Europe and the UN-ECE doing?”

Dale W. Sheets, “Acid Rain: The Facts” 23 March 1998

Department od Enviormental Protection, “Acid Rain In Pennsylvania”
Chuck, “Acid Rain” ChuckIII’s College Resources

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