As humans burn more fossil fuels through manufacturing and transportation, the acidity of the rain increases. Rain typically rankings around 5.6 on the pH scale, but the increase in air pollution is causing acid rain to fall around 4.2-4.4 on the pH scale. In 1990 the government implemented the Clean Air Act, which placed restrictions on levels of pollutants that cause acid rain. Unfortunately, as long as fossil fuels are being burned, the environmental impact will persist.
Rain of the Century:
Acid rain is caused by an excess of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. The sulfur and nitrogen react with water and create sulfuric and nitric acids. Acid rain is responsible for killing off whole forests, polluting waters, and damaging soil. The only way to fight acid rain is by reducing the pollutants causing it. This means burning fewer fossil fuels and setting higher air-quality standards. Let’s learn more.
Facts on Acid Rain:
- The Government Accountability Office stated that 88% of the Great Lakes were impaired by acid rain, and that 21,000 miles of streams were tainted in the central Appalachian Mountains.
- Acid rain directly impacts the livelihoods of trees by damaging the protective layers on leaves and disrupting their photosynthesis process by inhibiting the trees ability to take in carbon dioxide.
- Acid rain that seeps into the ground can dissolve nutrients, such as magnesium and calcium, that trees need for survival.
- 550 lakes in the Adirondack Mountains are affected by acid rain.
- In the Northeast, the fish in more than 10,000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs and 46,000 miles of rivers are designated as unfit for human consumption because of high levels of mercury.
- EPA faces challenges in using air regulations to further address the effects of atmospheric deposition from NOx, SO2 and mercury.
- It has been estimated that around 550 premature deaths each year occur from acid rain.
How can I make an impact:
Action 1: Global Goodness
- Educating yourself on important issues is imperative for change. Research the impacts of fossil fuels and their correlation with acid rain.
- Drive less. The more we as individuals reduce our fossil fuel usage, the more we can directly impact the reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions.
Action 2: Planet Protector
- All of Action 1
- Conserve energy. One of the biggest causes of pollution is coal burning. Coal is still one of the main sources of fossil fuel use in the US and around the world.
- Turn off lights, computers, televisions, video games, and other electrical equipment when you’re not using them
- Reduce your consumption. The less you buy, the less natural resources are used to produce what you buy.
Action 3: Earth Angel
- All of Action 1 & 2
- Lobby your local government to use alternative energy sources for government and corporate buildings.
- Send a letter to the EPA asking for increased regulations on industrial pollution levels.
- Sign petitions and support measures to reduce acid rain.