Acid rain is a serious problem with disastrous effects. Each daythis serious problem increases, many people believe that this issueis too small to deal with right now this issue should be met headon and solved before it is too late. In the following paragraphs Iwill be discussing the impact has on the wildlife and how ouratmosphere is being destroyed by acid rain.
Acid rain is a cancer eating into the face of Eastern Canada andthe North Eastern United States. In Canada, the main sulphuric acidsources are non(c)ferrous smelters and power generation. On bothsides of the border, cars and trucks are the main sources fornitric acid(about 40% of the total), while power generating plantsand industrial commercial and residential fuel combustion togethercontribute most of the rest. In the air, the sulphur dioxide andnitrogen oxides can be transformed into sulphuric acid and nitricacid, and air current can send them thousands of kilometres fromthe source.When the acids fall to the earth in any form it willhave large impact on the growth or the preservation of certainwildlife.
Areas in Ontario mainly southern regions that are near the GreatLakes, such substances as limestone or other known antacids canneutralize acids entering the body of water thereby protecting it.However, large areas of Ontario that are near the Pre(c)CambrianShield, with quartzite or granite based geology and little topsoil, there is not enough buffering capacity to neutralize evensmall amounts of acid falling on the soil and the lakes. Thereforeover time, the basic environment shifts from an alkaline to aacidic one. This is why many lakes in the Muskoka,Haliburton, Algonquin, Parry Sound and Manitoulin districts couldlose their fisheries if sulphur emissions are not reducedsubstantially.
The average mean of pH rainfall in Ontario’s Muskoka(c)Haliburtonlake country ranges between 3.95 and 4.38 about 40 times moreacidic than normal rainfall, while storms in Pennsilvania haverainfall pH at 2.8 it almost has the same rating for vinegar.
Already 140 Ontario lakes are completely dead or dying. Anadditional 48 000 are sensitive and vulnerable to acid rain dueto the surrounding concentrated acidic soils.
ACID RAIN CONSISTS OF….?
Canada does not have as many people, power plants or automobiles asthe United States, and yet acid rain there has become so severethat Canadian government officials called it the most pressingenvironmental issue facing the nation. But it is important to bearin mind that acid rain is only one segment, of the widespreadpollution of the atmosphere facing the world. Each year the globalatmosphere is on the receiving end of 20 billion tons of carbondioxide, 130 million tons of suffer dioxide, 97 million tons ofhydrocarbons, 53 million tons of nitrogen oxides, more than threemillion tons of arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, zinc andother toxic metals, and a host ofsynthetic organic compoundsranging from polychlorinated biphenyls(PCBs) to toxaphene and otherpesticides, 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 tocontributing to acid rain, nitrogen oxides can react withhydrocarbons to produce ozone, a major air pollutant responsible inthe United States for annual losses of $2 billion to 4.5 billionworth of wheat, corn, soyabeans, and peanuts. A wide range ofinteractions can occur many unknown with toxic metals.
In Canada, Ontario alone has lost the fish in an estimated 4000lakes and provincial authorities calculate that Ontario stands tolose the fish in 48 500 more lakes within the next twenty years ifacid rain continues at the present rate.Ontario is not alone, onNova Scotia’s Eastern most shores, almost every river flowing tothe Atlantic Ocean is poisoned with acid. Fur…..ther threatening a $2million a year fishing industry.
Acid rain is killing more than lakes. It can scar the leaves ofhardwood forest, wither ferns and lichens, accelerate the death ofconiferous needles, sterilize seeds, and weaken the forests to astate that is vulnerable to disease infestation and decay. In thesoil the acid neutralizes chemicals vital for growth, strips othersfrom the soil and carries them to the lakes and literally retardsthe respiration of the soil. The rate of forest growth in the WhiteMountains 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, andthin soils of the Northeast it now covers half the continent.
There is evidence that the rain is destroying the productivity ofthe once rich soils themselves, like an overdose of chemicalfertilizer or a gigantic drenching of vinegar. The damage of suchoverdosing may not be repairable or reversible. On some croplands,tomatoes grow to only half their full weight, and the leaves ofradishes wither. Naturally it rains on cities too, eating awaystone monuments and concrete structures, and corroding the pipeswhich channel the water away to the lakes and the cycle isrepeated. Paints and automobile paints have its life reduce due tothe pollution in the atmosphere speeding up the corrosion process.In some communities the drinking water is laced with toxic metalsfreed from metal pipes by the acidity. As if urban skies were notalready grey enough, typical visibility has declined from 10 to 4miles, along the Eastern seaboard, as acid rain turns into smogs.Also, now there are indicators that the components of acid rain area health risk, linked to human respiratory disease.
PREVENTIONHowever, the acidification of water supplies could result inincreased concentrations of metals in plumbing such as lead, copperand zinc which could result in adverse health effects. After anyperiod of non(c)use, water taps at summer cottages or ski chaletsthey should run the taps for at least 60 seconds to flush anyexcess debris.
Although there is very little data, the evidence indicates that inthe last twenty to thirty years the acidity of rain has increasedin many parts of the United States. Presently, the United Statesannually discharges more than 26 million tons of suffer dioxideinto the atmosphere. Just three states, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinoisare responsible for nearly a quarter of this total. Overall, twothirds ofthe suffer dioxide into the atmosphere over the UnitedStates comes from coal(c)fired and oil fired plants. Industrialboilers, smelters, and refineries contribute 26%; commercialinstitutions and residences 5%; and transportation 3%. The outlookfor future emissions of suffer dioxide is not a bright one. Betweennow and the year 2000, United States utilities are expected todouble the amount of coal they burn. The United States currentlypumps some 23 million tons of nitrogen oxides into the atmospherein 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 thatnitrogen oxide emissions have tripled in the last thirty years.
FINAL THOUGHTSAcid rain is very real and a very threatening problem. Action byone government is not enough. In order for things to be done weneed to find a way to work together on this for at least areduction in the contaminates contributing to acid rain. Althoughthere are right steps in the right directions but the governmentshould be cracking down on factories not using the best filteringsystems when incinerating or if the factory is giving off any otherdangerous fumes. I would like to express this question to you, thepublic:WOULD YOU RATHER PAY A LITTLE NOW OR A LOT LATER?