As humans burn more fossil fuels through manufacturing and transportation, the acidity of the rain increases. Rain typically ranks around 5.6 on the pH scale, but the increase in air pollution is causing acidic rain to fall between 4.2-4.4 pH. In 1990, the government implemented the Clean Air Act, which placed restrictions on the levels of pollutants that cause acid rain. Unfortunately, as long as fossil fuels are being burned – their harmful 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. Studies show that acid rain is responsible for killing off whole forests, polluting waters, and damaging soil. The only way to reduce acid rain is to reduce our usage of the pollutants that cause it. This means burning fewer fossil fuels, reducing our output of industrial pollution, and setting higher air-quality standards.
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 livelihood of trees by damaging the protective layers on their leaves – and disrupting the photosynthesis process by inhibiting the tree’s 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 46,000 miles of rivers and more than 10,000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs are designated as unfit for human consumption due to high levels of mercury.
- The 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 occur from acid rain each year .
How can I make an impact?
Action 1: Global Goodness
- Informing yourself on important issues is imperative for change. Research the impact 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 they are not in use.
- Reduce your consumption. The less you consume, the less natural resources are needed.
Action 3: Earth Angel
- All of Actions 1 & 2.
- Lobby your local government to use alternative energy sources for government and corporate buildings. Solar and wind power are the cleanest forms of alternative energy.
- Send a letter to the EPA asking for increased regulations on industrial pollution levels.
- Sign petitions and support measures in reducing acid rain.
- Spread Light. Spread Love.