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Acid Rain Case

Essay by   •  May 25, 2011  •  Essay  •  758 Words (4 Pages)  •  2,302 Views

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Today, acid-rain is a major contributor to the pollution of the environment. Mostly affecting North America and Canada, acid rain deals great damage to lakes, streams, and forests. The plants and animals of these ecosystems also suffer from the damaging acid-rain.

Acid-rain is the name given to a mixture of dry and wet deposited materials from the atmosphere with abnormally high amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids in them. The primary sources of acid-rain are man made power plants that add sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide to the atmosphere by the combustion of fossil fuels. Natural sources of acid-rain include decaying plants and volcanoes, though in the U.S, 2/3 of all SO2 and 1/3 of all NO emission come from electric power generation which relies on the burning of coal and other fossil fuels.

When these gases react with water, oxygen, and other chemicals in the atmosphere acid-rain is formed. Solutions of sulfuric and nitric acid occur as a result. These solutions are blown around, sometimes over 100's of miles. Depending on the amount of moisture in the air the acid rain comes down to the earth either as dry or wet deposition. If in a wet climate the acid-rain falls as wet deposition in the form of rain, hail, or snow, which flows through and over the ground, affecting plants and animals. If the climate is dry the acidic solution falls as dust, sticking all over the place. Later, rain will sweep this dust up and form an even stronger acidic solution than wet deposition and cause greater damage.

The damage acid-rain can inflict depends on the strength of its acidity, the chemistry and buffering capacity of soil involved, and the amount ant types of life depending on any water sources affected by acid-rain. Acid-rain can cause damage to trees in high altitude, such as red spruce trees above 2,000 feet high, and many sensitive forest soils. Acidification to lakes and streams is also a major effect of acid-rain. Also, it can speed up the decay of building materials and paint. This affects statues, monuments, and architecture dear to cultural heritage. Before reaching the ground, acid-rain may cause poor visibility, a threat to public health.

Today, the theory of how acid-rain is caused is generally accepted across society. It isn't a topic of argument. On the other hand, the issue of who should pay for the control of acid rain and the repair for damage inflicted by it is a controversial issue. Pollution emission control is very expensive and some don't think that the cost of emission control equals the cost of damage done. Sometimes power plants in one country can cause acid-rain in another country since acid rain can travel over long distances in the air, and don't pay for emission control because it's to expensive. This can cause many arguments and such relations exist between Canada



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