Essay, Research Paper: Acid Rain Is A Serious Problem


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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, and others believe it should be met head on. In the following
paragraphs I will be discussing the impact of acid rain effects on wildlife and
how our atmosphere is being destroyed. Causes 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, automobiles are the main sources for nitric acid
(about 40% of the total). Power generating plants, industrial commercial, and
residential fuel combustion together contribute the rest of the nitric acid . In
the atmosphere, the sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides transformís into
sulphuric acid and nitric acid. Air current can send them thousands of
kilometres from the source. When these acids fall to the earth, they will have
large impact on the growth and the preservation of certain wildlife. No Defence
Areas in Ontario; mainly southern regions that are near the Great Lakes, have
substances as limestone or other known antacids. These substanceís 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 Rain Consists Of Canada does not have as
many people, power plants or automobiles as the United States, and yet acid rain
here has become so severe that our government officials call it the most
pressing environmental issue facing the nation. 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. The Global atmosphere hostís 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 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. The
Dying Acid rain is killing more than lakes. It can scar the leaves of hardwood
forests, wither ferns and lichens. Acid rain accelerates the death of coniferous
needles, sterilize seeds, and weaken the forests to a state that is vulnerable
to disease infestation. 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 Acid 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.
Automobile paints have itís life reduced due to the pollution in the
atmosphere, by speeding up the corrosion process. In some communities drinking
water is laced with toxic metals freed from metal pipes by the acidity. Urban
skies 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.
Prevention 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, should run the taps for at least 60 seconds to
flush any excess debris. There are now ways to reduce the level of dioxides
coming out of coal burning plants, one way is to install an expensive scrubber
in each smoke stack. Other possible measures include burning only low sulfur oil
and coal. Statistics Although there is contradicting statistical 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. Conclusion Acid rain is real and a very
threatening problem that is now being found all over the world including North
America, Northern Europe and the tropical rain forest. 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. Governments 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.
Bubenick, D.V. Acid rain information book.(1984) White, J.C, Acid Rain.(1989)
Grolier encyclopedia.(1996) Mackenzie J.J. Acid rains toll on forestís(1991)
Pearce Fred, Acid Rain. What is it and what is it doing to us? - (1989) William
Stone, Acid Rain. Fiend or Foe?(1989) Steward Gail, Acid Rain (1990)
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