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 nonferrous 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
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 PreCambrian
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 MuskokaHaliburton
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.O
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.
COST OF ACID RAIN
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 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 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.
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 nonuse, water taps at summer cottages or ski chalets
they should run the taps for at least 60 seconds to flush any
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, twothirds of the suffer dioxide into the atmosphere over the United
States comes from coalfired 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?