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The Causes And Forms Of Acid Rain.

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The Causes And Forms Of Acid Rain The principal chemicals that produce acid rain are sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) including nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. Natural as well as human activities are responsible for the production of these atmospheric pollutants. Natural processes include bacterial action in soils, volcanic eruptions and degassing from oceanic plankton. SO2 from volcanic eruptions can significantly affect the Earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate. The noxious effects of pollution caused by human activity, particularly the burning of coal, have been recognised for centuries, although the association with acid rain was not realised until the nineteenth century. Most atmospheric pollutants are linked to industrial processes, for example smoke from factories, SO2 and NOx from power stations, pollen from agricultural activities, dust from building construction and asbestos from insulating material. Of these the emissions from factories and power stations have been linked to acid rain. Approximately 120 Mt of S02 is emitted annually around the globe from these principal sources and other industries using oil and coal as fossil fuels. ...read more.


Moreover, as wet deposition occurs typically in excess of 1000 km away from the source of pollution, the effects are often felt across national frontiers. This necessitates multi-lateral agreements on the curbing of sulphur emissions. Figure 1 shows the findings of a study by the National Environment Protection Board (1987) into the contribution made by external and internal sources to sulphur deposition. It was revealed that Norway imported 92% of its sulphur fallout from external sources, compared to only 20% for the United Kingdom. Given the direction of prevailing winds from the southwest it can only be supposed that the bulk of Scandinavia's acid deposition is attributed to emissions within the UK and northwestern Europe. Such findings serve only to strengthen the case for international agreement to control emissions. The effects of acid rain are: 1. The Human Environment Acid rain has a multiplicity of effects in the human environment. The corrosion of limestone buildings in towns and cities is one such effect. Far more insidious are the increasing incidents of lung cancer, bronchitis, emphysema and asthma attributed to breathing in tiny particles of sulphur and other pollutants, particularly the PM10s from vehicle emissions. ...read more.


which otherwise would have remained to help buffer the percolating acids. Whereas acids and heavy metals may be released during afforestation, deforestation can lead to the pollution of watercourses. A study in the Hartz mountains in Germany during the 1980s revealed that forest decline in areas susceptible to acid rain led to the build up of nitrogen compounds in the soil and greater leaching into stream courses. It appears, however, that toxic conditions in watercourses are highly episodic. Periods of high pollutant concentration are associated with snowmelt events when accumulated wet and dry deposition can enter watercourses simultaneously. Significant fish kills have been reported following snowmelt in Norwegian rivers and increased mobilisation of aluminium following snowmelt in West Wales. Figure 2 was produced by the United Kingdom Acid Waters Review Group and shows the main acid-susceptible areas in the UK based on solid and superficial geological deposits. Studies since then have identified great variations even within these susceptible areas and have focused on three factors in addition to bedrock geology: soil type, land use and rainfall amount. Using these factors researchers are able to categorise areas according to their relative sensitivity to acid rain damage and to map these areas. ...read more.

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