The problem of acid rain started with the Industrial Revolution which began in the 19th Century, when
industries began to pump out gasses into the atmosphere. The severity of the damage caused by the
acid rain has been growing ever since. Acid rain has for a long time been something that can be
localized because it has been proven that in more industrialized places there is more acid rain
than in unindustrialized areas, but it has also become evident that acid rain has become a widespread
problem, with pollution travelling from one place to another by wind currents.
Acid rain forms when emissions of SO2
(sulphur dioxide) and NOx (Nitrous oxide) combine. Sulphur
Dioxide emissions are mostly found from Coal-fired Power Stations and metal-working industries.
Nitrous Oxide emissions are mostly found in vehicles and fuel combustion.
Sulphur Dioxide reacts with water vapour in the air and sunlight to form Sulphuric Acid. The same
occurs with Nitrous Oxide forming nitric acid. These reactions usually take hours or even days
depending on the wind and weather, when polluted air can move over hundreds of kilometers.
When mist or droplets condense, they remove pollutants from the air. This then falls to the earth
in the form of rain, which is known as Acid Rain. Snow can also have this in it.
|In 1984, environmental reports said that almost half of the trees in Germany's Black Forest had been damaged by acid rain.
- Acid rain increases the acidity of lakes and dams and can kill off much Aquatic Life
- Acid rain increases the acidity of soil and ground water meaning that plants and crops will
- Acid rain has been blamed for the death of trees in forests in Europe and North America. In
spite of research nobody yet knows the exact way in which forests are harmed by Acid Rain.
There is no simple quick solution. We need to use energy more effectively than we have been, at
home, and in our vehicles and industry. We will need to decide on another form of power source, such
as Nuclear power or Hydroelectric power. It has been possible to remove acidic emissions from a
coal burning power station but it is a very costly process. We could also design plants and trees
that are resistant to pollution but this would not be a very practible solution to the problem.