Acid Rain

Acid Rain

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Acid Rain

"I am For the reduction of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emission
by 80%by the year 2010.We need to take drastic action because the
effects on us all are very serious. We must protect ourselves and
safeguard our future"

Acid rain, it is dangerous and destructive. The main culprits for
producing acid rain are the very industrialized countries; the UK and
U.S.A are the two main countries that cause acid rain. These two
countries have many coal mines, working factories, power stations and
oil refineries all these places produce huge amounts of sulphur
dioxide. Also common to both of these countries is the use of motor
vehicles these produce over 50% of the nitrogen oxide in the air. When
the two gases sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide combine with water
droplets in the clouds the make the rainwater very acidic. Natural
rain and snow is slightly acidic with a Ph 5.6, because of the carbon
dioxide dissolved in it. But over recent decades, rain in North
America and Europe areas has had a pH close to 4.5 and sometimes as
low as 2.1 this is equivalent to lemon juice. These gases can travel
thousands of kilometres in the atmosphere, where they mix with water
vapour to form a mild solution of sulphuric and nitric acid. Rain,
snow, hail, fog and other precipitation wash this combination down to
earth as acid rain.

The diagram below shows the causes of the problem in the UK and the
effects when it reaches Sweden.

Acid Rain - UK and Sweden

Sweden's forests are being destroyed by acid rain. Due to acid rain
many trees in the forests have lost their needles and this affects the
forest growth. Researchers are convinced that large areas of forest
are close to their biological tolerances. The soil has used up its
resources to neutralise the acid rain. In Sweden, nearly 10,000 lakes
now have such high mercury concentrations that people are advised not
to eat fish caught in them. As the water become more acidic, it can

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also react with lead and copper water pipes, contaminating drinking
water supplies. In Sweden, the drinking water reached a stage where it
contained enough copper to turn your hair green. That much copper can
also cause diarrhoea in young children, and can damage livers and
kidneys. Almost all kinds of buildings take damage of acid rain. They
corrode down by sulphur and nitre acids. Even rubber, plastic and
metals react against acid rain, for example iron, rust and copper
become green.

People living near the lakes and forest gave us their opinions:-

"We live opposite the lake and over the years I have noticed huge
amounts of changes. There are now hardly any fisherman but I remember
a time when the lake was full of the hustle and bustle of the
fisherman, there are fewer insects and when you look out onto the lake
you see it is clear all the fish are slowly vanishing, this once
beautiful lake has turned into something totally opposite"

"I grew up in a small village right next to one of Sweden's most
beautiful forest's, but over the years things in the forest have had a
major change the forest is no more alive and vibrant it is now limp
and slowly dieing there is still time to save the forest but drastic
action needs to be taken to stop acid rain!"

"I am a fisherman in Sweden, and I am struggling to make any income
even after a full hard days work, the lakes are not what they used to
be there are no more fish to catch an if there are the fish are
dangerous to humans, this is causing me many problems as I make no
income I cannot support ma family or even my self. Something has to be
done as I am not the only person suffering!"

These are views and opinions of the people living in Sweden these
actions are affecting their lives. Something needs to be done.

The only way to stop it is to stop releasing so much sulphur dioxide
and nitrogen oxides into the air.

In Sweden, over 18,000 lakes have become so acidic due to acid rain
that all the fish have died. Some success has been achieved by dumping
vast quantities of rocks like limestone into the lakes, because these
rocks destroy the acid, but for most of the lakes it will be many
years after we stop producing acid rain before the water returns to
normal.

Using fossil fuels such as coal to produce electricity is very cheap
for the factories, In the United States; sulphur in coal makes up the
greatest part of the sulphur dioxide that becomes acid rain. When coal
is burned to make electricity or heat, the sulphur goes up the
smokestacks and into the atmosphere to become air pollution. There are
several ways to reduce the amount of sulphur entering the air. One way
is to wash the sulphur out of the coal before it is burned. Another is
to wash the sulphur out of the smoke before it goes up to the
smokestacks. Scrubbers remove sulphur from the smoke by spraying a
mixture of water and powdered limestone into the smokestack. The
mixture traps the sulphur before it can escape into the air above.


There are other sources for energy other then using fossil fuels
though they are not as cheap. Include hydroelectric power and nuclear
power. Dams use the power of water to turn turbines and make
electricity. People have been using this form of energy for most of
this century. Nuclear power plants make electricity from the energy
released by splitting atoms. A small amount of nuclear fuel can make a
very large amount of electricity.

In order to stop acid rain, power plants should reduce nitrogen oxide
waste products. All cars should run on unleaded gas. But for acid rain
to be abolished, everyone must work together to care for the
environment. So that future generations can see the beauty of the
fish, birds, and environment.
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