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Causes of Acid Rain

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Introduction

Causes of Acid Rain Emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are the leading causes of acid rain. These toxins, a weaker form of automobile battery acid, arise from the use of coal in the production of electricity, base-metal smelting, and fuel combustion in vehicles. These emissions are converted to nitric acid and sulfuric acid. Electric utility plants, as seen in this picture from the EPA, account for about 70% of annual SO2 emissions and 30% of NOx emissions in the United States. The emissions then dissolve into the water of the atmosphere. This water is carried long distances by winds and then returned to Earth as rain, fog, or snow. ...read more.

Middle

This chart shows the different levels of acidity that certain lifeforms can handle. Even for those like the frog that can handle a really low pH, they eat the mayflies, which cannot handle much acid. As its food sources die off, the frog will be soon to follow. In addition, nitrogen causes major problems by inducing eutrophication. This is the depletion of oxygen in water, which seriously affects fish. Some lakes and streams can become naturally acidic from surrounding soils. However, according to the National Surface Water Survey (NSWS), acid rain is the cause in 75% of the bodies of water with high acidity. ...read more.

Conclusion

Other than the monetary setbacks, our nation will suffer from loss of its heritage. In the East where our country was born, acid rain is at its worst and is destroying our national monuments. PUBLIC HEALTH Public health is affected by acid rain through both the water and the atmosphere. When the pH of soil decreases, the mobility of metallic compounds such as aluminum and mercury are increased, making them easily transported into the water system. This can lead to the contamination of not only the water, which may be used for drinking, but also to the contamination of edible fish. Suspended atmospheric sulfates may produce respiratory diseases including lung disorders, asthma, and bronchitis. In 1981, 10.2%-13.2% of deaths of white adults were caused from exposure to atmospheric sulfates! ...read more.

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