Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Acid Rain Has Greater Impact on Coastal Ocean Waters

Acid rain plays a small role in making the world's oceans more acidic. But new research has found that acid rain has a much bigger impact on the coastal sections of the ocean. Acid rain is caused by pollution in the atmosphere from power plants, cars, farming, and ranching.

When coastal areas become more acidic, marine animals such as sea urchins, corals, and certain types of planktons have a hard time creating exoskeletons (their hard outer shells). Because these animals are an important food source for other animals in the ocean, if they don't survive the food chain of the entire ocean ecosystem could be affected.

Scott Doney is a scientist on a team that has been looking into the affects of acid rain on the ocean and coastal areas. "Acid rain isn't just a problem of the land; it's also affecting the ocean," said Scott Doney. He added thar the problems from acid rain are the worst near the coasts. Coastal areas are vunerable because they have already been damaged by pollution, overfishing and climate change.

Also, phytoplankton and other ocean plants become overgrown when there is more acid in the oceans. When this happens, there are more areas of the ocean that don't have enough oxygen in them for plants and animals to live.When doing their study, the research team built models of the ocean and the atmosphere to see where acid rain will probably have the biggest impact. They compared the results of their model with field observations other scientists made in coastal waters around the United States.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Program Will Seek To Reverse Acid-rain Damage

Local lakes damaged by acid rain may benefit from a new program that aims to examine ways to restore Adirondack lakes and streams.

The Adirondack Acid Rain Recovery Program will look for new approaches to reversing the damage caused by acid-rain pollution, which affects hundreds of Adirondack water bodies.Acid rain is caused when air emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, generated predominately by coal-fired power plants, interact in the atmosphere to form acid compounds that fall back to earth as acid rain.

The Adirondacks are particularly sensitive to acid rain. When acid rain falls on the Adirondacks, it acidifies forest soils, which reduce growth and survival of tree species. It also acidifies lakes and other water bodies, which can kill fish and water organisms or affect their growth.Some of the lakes in the area that have been affected severely by acid rain include Big Moose Lake, Brooktrout, Bellows, Stewart, Nine Corner and Jockeybush lakes.

Not all those lakes are to the point where they are lifeless because of acid rain, but the drop in pH levels have created problems for the marine life living there."Acid rain doesn't actually start doing a lot of damage right away; it takes a long time for the effects to accumulate, so places where the soil is the thinnest, you will notice the damage first," Sheehan said.He said to combat acid rain in the 1980s and '90s, lime and limestone was used to decrease the acidity of lakes. However, he said this also had a negative effect because it can make certain plants toxic to mammals.

"It is not good to just start spreading lime all over the forest in an effort to neutralize acid rain," Sheehan said. "Some of the things that were effective that I think this program can build on was placing limestone in the inlet streams to major lakes and ponds so that the water coming in will have a higher pH than it normally would. In other cases, placing lime on a frozen lake surface during the winter time also helped [lower acidity]."He said pollution is decreasing because of federal regulations on coal plants and automobiles."Pollution input is decreasing, and that is the first step you have to take in order for programs like this to really make a difference," Sheehan said. "The quicker we can get chemical recovery in the waters, the quicker we will see biological recovery. Once the pH levels are reduced to a livable level, some of the plants and life we had in the water will begin to return."

Sheehan said although acid rain won't hurt people swimming, it can contaminate fish with mercury, and if ingested after being caught, it can create serious health problems.Acid rain also can hurt the ability of maple trees to reproduce and destroy the commercial value of timber land, Sheehan said.Funding for the new program was obtained by the attorney general's office in a multi-state settlement with Cinergy Corp., now Duke Energy Corp., over violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

A news release said in addition to providing funds for the program, the settlement required Cinergy to control pollution.The program is intended to jump-start research projects for reducing the effects of acid rain pollution and advancing recovery in the Adirondacks."As progress is made in reducing acid-rain pollution, hundreds of lakes and streams in the Adirondacks are still struggling to recover from this pollution," Schneiderman said in the news release.Acid rain has decreased significantly in recent years as a result of federal and state efforts to limit air pollution, but parts of the Adirondacks have been slow to recover.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Acid Rain and Smog

Acid rain and smog can have a wide-range of effects not only on the natural environment, but also on human health, including heart and lung problems.

According to Environment Canada, Canadian emissions causing acid rain have been cut  and emissions causing smog have been cut by one-third.Sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions have gone down 54 per cent, mainly due to reductions from base metal smelters and fossil fuel-fired electricity generating utilities.

Particulate matter emissions, which have been linked to respiratory and cardiac illness, have been reduced by 34 per cent.Nitrogen oxides emissions have also been reduced by one-third in the southern and central Ontario and southern Quebec region.The U.S. has seen similarly positive results since the agreement was signed.  U.S. sulphur dioxide emissions have been reduced by 67 per cent, and its power plant emissions of nitrogen oxides have decreased by over two-thirds.

Since the addition of the Ozone Annex to the agreement , Canada has been able to reduce nitrogen oxides emissions by a third in the southern and central Ontario and southern Quebec transboundary region defined under the agreement. "These reductions have contributed to significant improvements in air quality on both sides of the border," said Environment Canada in a statement.It added that "Canada is looking forward to continuing its bilateral cooperation with the U.S., and to resolving the environmental challenges that face our countries."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Integrated Analysis For Acid Rain In Asia

Policy implications and results of RAINS-ASIA model:
Fossil fuels account for about 80% of energy consumption in Asia. Because of its abundance and easy recoverability, especially in India and China, coal will remain the fuel of choice in the foreseeable future. If current trends continue, sulphur dioxide emissions from Asia may soon equal the emissions from North America and Europe combined. These trends portend a variety of local, regional, and global environmental impacts. Acid rain damages human health, ecosystems, and built surfaces. 

Many ecosystems will be unable to absorb these increased acidic depositions, leading to irreversible ecosystem damage with far-reaching implications for health, forestry, agriculture, fisheries, and tourism. RAINS-ASIA is a scenario-generating tool used to estimate the extent of damages caused by acid rain and to review the costs and impacts of alternatives to provide a look into the future. Its use extends from national, regional, and city-scale evaluation and inputs for cost-effective options analyses, to international negotiations on transboundary pollution.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Acid Rain Facts

Where do sulphur dioxide emissions come from?

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is generally a byproduct of industrial processes and burning of fossil fuels. Ore smelting, coal-fired power generators, and natural gas processing are the main contributors. In 1995, for instance, U.S. SO2 emissions were measured at 16.8 million tonnes—a  full six times greater than Canada’s—2.7 million total tonnes. But the sources of SO2 emissions from the two countries are quite different. While 61% of Canada’s emissions come directly from industrial sources, 66% of the U.S.’ emissions are from the electrical utilities.
Canada cannot win the fight against acid rain on its own. Only reducing acidic emissions in both Canada and the U.S. will stop acid rain. More than half of the acid deposition in eastern Canada originates from emissions in the United States. Areas such as Muskoka-Haliburton and Quebec City receive about three-quarters of their acid deposition from the United States. In 1995, the estimated transboundary flow of sulphur dioxide from the United States to Canada was between 3.5 to 4.2 millions of tonnes per year.

Where do NOX emissions come from?

The main source of NOX emissions is the combustion of fuels in motor vehicles, residential and commercial furnaces, industrial and electrical-utility boilers and engines, and other equipment. In 1995, Canada’s largest contributor of NOX was the transportation sector, which accounted for approximately 60% of all emissions. Overall, NOX emissions amounted to 2.25 million tonnes in 1995. By comparison, U.S. NOX emissions for 1995 amounted to 21.7 million tonnes—10 times more than Canada’s. 

The influence of transboundary flows of air pollutants from the United States into Canada is significant. Overall about 24% of the regional-scale ozone episodes that are experienced in the United States occur simultaneously in Ontario. An analysis of ozone concentrations at four sites in extreme southwestern Ontario taking wind factors into account provides an estimate that 50 to 60% of the ozone at these locations is of U.S. origin 

What is the difference between a target load and a critical load?

The critical load is a measure of how much pollution an ecosystem can tolerate; in other words, the threshold above which the pollutant load harms the environment. Different regions have different critical loads. Ecosystems that can tolerate acidic pollution have high critical loads, while sensitive ecosystems have low critical loads.
The critical load varies across the Canada. It depends on the ability of a particular ecosystem to neutralize acids. The critical load for aquatic ecosystems is defined as the amount of wet sulphate deposition that protects 95% of lakes from acidifying to a pH level of less than 6. (A pH of 7 is neutral; less than 7 is acidic; and greater than 7 is basic.) At a pH below 6, fish and other aquatic species begin to decline.

A target load is the amount of pollution that is deemed politically acceptable when other factors (such as ethics, scientific uncertainties, and social and economic effects) are balanced with environmental considerations. Under the Eastern Canada Acid Rain Program, Canada committed to cap SO2 emissions in the seven provinces from Manitoba eastward at 2.3 million tonnes . The program’s objective was to reduce wet sulphate deposition to a target of no more than 20 kilograms per hectare per year (kg/ha/yr), which our scientists defined as the acceptable deposition rate to protect moderately sensitive aquatic ecosystems from acidification.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Collection Of Acid Precipitation

Wet deposition samples can be measured to determine chemical concentrations in almost any area. The National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) at the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois, maintains three networks with more than 350 deposition monitoring sites. The NADP National Trends Network has 250 sites in the U.S. located far from the point sources of pollution. Each site has an automated precipitation collector and gauge to gather samples only during rain or snowfall.

Weekly samples are collected and sent to the NADP for analysis. The network measures acidity and calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate, nitrate, chloride, and ammonium ions.

NADP monitoring data show that wet sulphate deposition has decreased an average of 30 percent since the early 1990s in the eastern United States. The largest decreases occurred in Maryland, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Nitrogen deposition has decreased as well, but to a lesser extent.

Legislative mandates, federal government programs, and environmental-friendly changes in fossil fuel use in electrical power plants have successfully lowered the emission of SO2 and NOx and the resulting acid deposition in the U.S. since the 1980s. However, the problem still exists. Scientists continue to try to fully understand acid rain and its long-term effects on the environment and on human health.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

China and Acid Rain

In China, acid rain has become a large problem. It cannot be denied –the effect of toxic rain is visible even on The Leshan Buddha. The giant statue that has drawn Buddhist pilgrims, tourists, and scholars for 1200 years is now discolored, its face appearing “sooty.” This is thanks to acid rain. Because of the statues importance in the culture, acid rain is no longer considered just an environmental problem, but also a threat to heritage. China’s highly industrialized society has resulted in this man-made pollutant, the highest concentrations of the problem being in southeast China where the most people, power-plants, and factories are located. The rain has received little international attention due to China’s many other environmental problems, but is a very serious problem. It not only erodes monuments, but also eats away at the outside of buildings, destroys paint finishes, poisons land, and turns bodies of water into lifeless puddles.

Buddha - Acid Rain

 Acid rain also results in serious health effects including lung disease, heart attacks, and asthma. In 2001, Beijing implemented a national target for reducing SO2 levels in the 10th Five Year Plan (2001-2005). Beijing aimed to cut sulphur dioxide emissions 10 percent below that of 2001 by 2005, but instead emissions increased 28 percent. There is hope however. Between 2006 and 2009, China’s SO2 levels decreased by more than 13 percent. The government has begun to shut down hundreds of inefficient coal-run plants. Larger plants that have the money to install a more environmentally friendly method of production have done so. These plants are required to meet certain standards, as well as install SO2 monitoring systems. There are also monitoring systems to ensure the equipment is used appropriately. This is a key part of the plan to better the factories as using the inefficient equipment will increase production. 

This national step of monitoring emissions, and making an effort to change, ultimately shows that China has adopted an ideology of being environmentally aware. Though there is still room for improvement. The systems implemented by the government are not perfect, and the country has a long way to go. Still, China’s recent change in thinking and acting is a reason for hope globally.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Acid Rain Program Benefiting Environment, Human Health

The National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP) is a Federal interagency program that coordinates acid rain research and reports to Congress on the effects of acid rain on sensitive ecosystems and progress towards minimizing those impacts. The new report concludes that the Acid Rain Program—created by bipartisan mandate under Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments—has not only successfully reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from power plants, but also far exceeded its emissions-reduction goals.  A creative, market-based cap-and-trade approach has been critical to the success of the SO2 emissions-reductions efforts. The approach, which combines the best of American science, government action, and innovation, significantly reduced compliance costs by giving utilities flexibility in how they achieved SO2 emissions reductions.

Acid rain is formed when air pollutants like SO2 and NOx react with water and other compounds in the atmosphere. A large percentage of SO2 and NOx emissions come from man-made sources such as electric power generation.  Decades of science has shown that acid rain can damage lakes, streams, and forests; degrade air quality; impair visibility; and negatively affect human health. Since its formation in 1995, the Acid Rain Program has worked to protect Americans from these harmful effects by gradually reducing SO2 and NOX emissions from power plants. 

In this latest report, numbers tell the story of the Acid Rain Program’s success. U.S. SO2 emissions, for example, decreased by 64% between 1990 and 2009 to a level substantially below the 8.95 million ton statutory limit set by Congress.  NOx emissions in the United States decreased by 67% between 1995 and 2009—exceeding the goal set by Congress by more than three-fold.

The estimated cost of complying with Title IV has amounted to a fraction of initial estimates, and the benefits have been enormous, including benefits to human health and the environment. The report concludes that the innovative cap-and-trade system used to reduce SO2­ under Title IV was key to achieving these benefits economically. 

While the NAPAP report presents evidence of significant improvement, it also points to recent science that suggests that many sensitive ecosystems will be unable to fully recover from the effects of acid rain.  Further emissions reductions from additional sources will be necessary to protect these sensitive ecosystems. The report notes that additional reductions projected to occur under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ,would reduce the number of lakes being harmed by acid rain by more than half relative to current levels.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How Acid Rain Is Changing Waterways

Something peculiar is happening to rivers and streams in large parts of the United States — the water's chemistry is changing. Scientists have found dozens of waterways that are becoming more alkaline. Alkaline is the opposite of acidic .

Research published in the current issue of Environmental Science and Technology shows this trend to be surprisingly widespread, with possibly harmful consequences.What's especially odd about the finding is its cause: It seems that acid rain actually has been causing waterways to grow more alkaline.The story started back in 1963 in a New Hampshire forest. A young scientist named Gene Likens found a stream there that was as acidic as tomato juice.

Likens eventually found the culprit: acid rain. Industrial air pollution was acidifying water that rained down from the sky, killing trees and the ecosystems of streams in the East.Now — 50 years later — there's less acid rain. But rivers aren't neutral, they're alkaline, and that seems to be the trend in lots of places. "The real shocker to me," Likens says, "was [that] we found it from New Hampshire to Florida, and in rivers and streams that drained agricultural land, forest land and urban land."
Acid Rain Effects

Two-thirds of the 97 streams and rivers his team studied in the East have been growing more alkaline — from the mighty Susquehanna to small urban streams, like Gwynns Falls in downtown Baltimore.I recently visited Gwynns Falls with one of Likens' team members, Sujay Kaushal, a geologist from the University of Maryland. He guided me down to the stream, directly below an overpass of Interstate 95. It's anything but bucolic. Traffic roars overhead, and there's trash in the stream, and plastic bags hanging from the lower limbs of trees along the banks.

This stream is where Kaushal first found signs of rising alkalinity about six years ago, after a local water quality official told him he'd been noticing changes in water chemistry."We couldn't explain it," Kaushal says. Initially the scientists thought maybe the concrete and cement of pavement, highway overpasses or other structures were to blame. "One of the key ingredients of concrete is actually limestone," he says, and the mix of water and limestone release bicarbonate — essentially the same stuff that remedies acid indigestion.

But when Kaushal and Likens looked at waterways outside cities — running through forests, for example, or farmland — they found that these rural rivers and streams have been growing more alkaline over the past 25 years, too.Acid rain is largely behind the phenomenon, the scientists say. It's been eating away chunks of rock, especially limestone rock, and the runoff produces carbonates that flow into rivers. "We're basically dissolving the surface of the Earth," says Kaushal. "It's ending up in our water. It's like rivers on Rolaids. There's a natural antacid in these watersheds."

Now, that's not an immediate health threat, but it has environmental effects. Kaushal invited me to wade into the stream. Mops of stringy green stuff coated the rocks. It was thick and slippery underfoot."You can feel that?" he asks. "All that scum, all that slime is algae and bacteria." The alkalinity stimulates the growth of certain types of algae. And too much algae will suck the oxygen out of the water — bad news for whatever else lives there.

Something else is worrisome about alkaline water: If it mixes with sewage, it creates a particularly toxic stew by converting ammonia in the sewage into a more toxic form.It just so happens, the day I visited Gwynns Falls, there was a sewage leak just upstream that Kaushal was eager to show me. "So ... why don't we walk up along this?" He seemed disappointed when I declined to observe sewage chemistry firsthand. I took his word for it.Gwynns Falls is a small stream, and it doesn't take a lot to alter its chemistry. But even big rivers that usually can dilute moderate levels of noxious pollutants are growing more alkaline.

"We've changed the chemistry of the Mississippi," says Peter Raymond, an ecologist at Yale University. "These aren't small systems."Some of the growing alkalinity of the Mississippi and its tributaries comes from farmers putting lime on fields to counteract the acidity produced by fertilizers, Raymond says. Acid rain likely contributes, too.He says it's not clear what kind of damage all this is doing, though a number of freshwater organisms are likely to be affected.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Red Cedars Recover From Acid Rain

Thanks to the Clean Air Act, red cedars in the eastern US have bounced back from acid rain pollution.

Starting around the mid-1800s, the burning of fossil fuels sent atmospheric carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels soaring. But the Clean Air Act reversed part of that trend. Since the legislation passed in 1970, SO2 levels have dropped.

Researchers studied eastern red cedars in the Central Appalachian Mountains, which suffered from heavy acid rain caused by SO2 emissions from nearby coal-fired plants. The trees growth has increased since 1970, the team reports in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And the rate of photosynthesis rose by 27 percent after 1980.

Detailed analyses of the trees’ carbon and sulfur content provide evidence for a distinct physiological response to changes in atmospheric SO2 emissions since ~1980 and signify the positive impacts of landmark

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Eastern US Rivers Are Alkaline - Acid Rain

A new study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology and based on decades of data reveals that two-thirds of the rivers located in the Eastern United States are now alkaline, and acid rain is likely to blame.

Data were sampled from rivers from Florida to New Hampshire over a time span of 25 to 60 years. The results showed that during this period, two-thirds had become significantly more alkaline and none more acidic.

The interaction between human activities and watershed geology is accelerating long-term changes in the carbon cycle of rivers. We evaluated changes in bicarbonate alkalinity, a product of chemical weathering, and tested for long-term trends at 97 sites in the eastern United States draining . We observed statistically significant increasing trends in alkalinity at 62 of the 97 sites, while remaining sites exhibited no significant decreasing trends. Over 50% of study sites also had statistically significant increasing trends in concentrations of calcium (another product of chemical weathering) where data were available. River alkalinization rates were significantly related to watershed carbonate lithology, acid deposition, and topography. These three variables explained 40% of variation in river alkalinization rates. The strongest predictor of river alkalinization rates was carbonate lithology. The most rapid rates of river alkalinization occurred at sites with highest inputs of acid deposition and highest elevation. The rise of alkalinity in many rivers throughout the Eastern U.S. suggests human-accelerated chemical weathering, in addition to previously documented impacts of mining and land use. Increased river alkalinization has major environmental implications including impacts on water hardness and salinization of drinking water, alterations of air–water exchange of CO2, coastal ocean acidification, and the influence of bicarbonate availability on primary production.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sour Showers - Acid Rain

The acid rain scourge had killed trees and fish and even dissolved parts of statues on Washington, D.C.'s National Mall is back. But unlike the first round, in which sulfur emissions from power plants mixed with rain to create sulfuric acid, the current problem stems primarily from nitrogen emissions mixed with rain to create nitric acid.

 Acid rain degrades cement and limestone as well as leaches critical soil nutrients, which injures plants. It also liberates toxic minerals from the ground that flow into stream runoff where they can kill fish.Sulfur emissions from power plants were one of the primary motivations for the U.S.'s Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which set reduction targets for both sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). However, whereas sulfur dioxide emissions decreased almost 70 percent from 1990 to 2008, emissions of one NOx—nitrogen dioxide (NO2)—went down only 35 percent for that same period, and amendment targets have yet to be made, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "This comes as scientists have grown increasingly aware of the consequences of the remaining nitric acid deposition," Schlesinger says.

Schlesinger is one of a number of scientists calling attention to the problem. On June 8 the Integrated Nitrogen Committee of the EPA's Science Advisory board held a public teleconference to discuss a draft report of possible solutions to nitrogen problems, including acid rain. A final report is pending.

Nitric acid rain is derived primarily from power plant, car and truck emissions as well as from gases released by fertilizer use. Part of the problem dates back to WWI, when two German scientists invented the Haber–Bosch process, which took nonreactive nitrogen from the air (N2) and converted it into reactive, usable ammonia (NH3). Most of the nitrogen harvested via this process has been used in fertilizers, and the runoff from farms has created dead zones in Chesapeake Bay and at the mouths of the Columbia and Mississippi rivers. Some efforts have been made to regulate the agricultural nitrogen runoff, but atmospheric emissions of agricultural ammonia remain virtually unrestricted.

Agri-ammonia vapors also derive from concentrated animal feeding operations in the U.S. South. The gas rises into the air and is deposited dry or in rainfall where in the ground bacteria breaks it into nitrogen and nitric acid, which can kill fish and plants. "Agriculture is increasingly functioning as an intensively managed industrial operation, and that is creating serious water, soil, and air problems," says Viney Aneja, a professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Aneja says that state's concentrated animal feeding operations may also emit particulate matter from swine and chicken manure into the atmosphere, which can carry diseases.

NOx escapes from power plants as a by-product of coal combustion, whereas vehicular engines run at high enough pressures and temperatures to combine nitrogen and oxygen in the air. "Though catalytic converters have decreased the amount of pollution per vehicle, there are more vehicles on the road and more miles driven," Schlesinger says. Emissions from fertilizers are the chief source of atmospheric nitric oxide, but motor vehicles have now overtaken coal power plants as the secondary most critical source of this problem.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Simulating the Effects of Acid Rain

Materials Required:
 - Bottle of Vinegar (1/2 cup per group)
- Chalk (two to three pieces per group)
- Zip lock bags (2 per group)
- Droppers (2 per group)
- Plates (2 per group)
- Tap water (1/2 cup per group) 

  • Place one piece of chalk in each pan.
  • Using the dropper drip vinegar onto the chalk on one of the plates in a constant stream.
  • Using the dropper drip water onto the chalk on the second plate in a constant stream. 
Scientific Explanation: 
Acid rain is caused mostly by the combustion of fossil fuels containing sulfur and nitrogen. When sulphur and nitrogen are combusted, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are created and released into the atmosphere. Once these gases come in contact with water they become acids (Sulphuric acid and Nitric acid). This can happen either through wet deposition when rain, sleet or snow remove the gases from the air or through dry deposition when particles are deposited and absorbed into surfaces and later converted into acids when they come into contact with water. Coal power plants, electricity generation, driving a car, volcanoes and thunderstorms all contribute to acid rain. While there are natural causes of acid rain as mentioned, 90% of harmful emissions are a result of man-made sources. Acidity of rainwater is measured by the pH scale. It ranges from 0 which is highly acidic to 14 which is highly alkaline (basic). The scale point 7 is neutral. Clean rain measures at pH 5.6 while acid rain is anything measuring between pH 5 and pH 0. Acid rain has an adverse effect on the natural environment including forests, freshwaters and soils. It not only kills insect and aquatic life forms but also causes damage to buildings and has impacts on human health. Acid rain destroys the surface of trees and depletes essential nutrients in the soil greatly impacting plant germination and reproduction, causing vulnerability to disease and stunting its growth. It increases the level of acidity in water sources which inhibits the ability for natural mechanisms to cope. Gradually the most fragile creatures and life forms begin to die. Lastly, acid rain damages buildings through corrosion and fracturing.

Great structures such as the Taj Mahal and the Washington Monument buildings have all suffered the harmful effects of acid rain. Buildings made of limestone are particularly impacted.
In order to mimic the effect of acid rain on the environment specifically on rock (limestone) we used vinegar and chalk. It may take a considerable amount of time to see the visible effects of acid rain yet the reaction of vinegar and chalk is instant and illustrates the same concept. The reaction of vinegar and chalk is an example of an acid- base reaction (neutralization). Vinegar, the acid, has a pH level of 3 while the chalk also known as calcium carbonate is a base at pH 8. When they are combined the chalk starts to bubble and foam up. The acid breaks apart the calcium carbonate and produces calcium and carbon dioxide gas. The bubbles you see during the reaction are carbon dioxide. On the surface of the vinegar are small pieces of chalk which have been neutralized.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Environmental Problems Related to Electric Power Plant Emissions

Electric power plant emissions are factors in three major environmental issues: acid rain, urban air quality, and global climate change. These issues are discussed below.

Acid rain refers to rain, fog, mist, or snow that is more acidic than normal. The acidity of precipitation is stated in terms of its pH level, which describes the concentration of hydrogen ions along a scale (from 0 to 14) that defines the continuum from acid to base. The pH scale is logarithmic; pH levels of 4.0 and 3.0, for example, are 10 and 100 times more acidic, respectively, than a pH level of 5.0. Although a pH level of 7.0 is neutral, unpolluted rainfall is normally slightly acidic (pH=5.6). Acid rain is defined as any precipitation with a pH of 5.5 or less.

Chemical analysis of data collected by means of cloud sampling and experimentation reveals the presence of sulphuric acid and nitric acid in precipitation in the United States .Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the air, partly the result of emissions from electric power plants, gradually react with water vapor and become acids. Precipitation becomes acidic by mixing with these acids. The acidity of the precipitation depends upon the amount of acid in the atmosphere and the amount of water in which it is dissolved. Undissolved acids may also fall to Earth by themselves or in combination with dust particles.

The most severely acidic conditions are found in the eastern United States. EPA believes that acid rain has been the primary cause of the acidification of hundreds of streams in the mid-Atlantic highlands and the New Jersey Pine Barrens and of many lakes in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.The National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP) identified acid rain as one of several possible causes of increased nitrate leaching and acidification of surface waters in several northeastern watersheds. Episodes of acidification are believed to harm populations of fish and invertebrates in small streams and lakes.

Field studies have implicated acid rain in observed damage to high-elevation red spruce forests in the northeastern United States. Nutrient leaching and changes in soil chemistry due to acid deposition have also been detected in forests south of the Great Lakes. In general, NAPAP concluded that acid deposition, among other stressors, threatens the long-term structure, function, and productivity of many sensitive ecosystems.

Some research suggests that emissions of sulphates and other pollutants from the combustion of fossil fuels may be linked to abnormally high mortality rates in humans.Clinical studies have shown lung irritation and impaired lung cleansing in human subjects exposed to acidic aerosols.

Urban ozone - Electric power plants contribute heavily to NOx emissions, which are precursor chemicals that (along with VOCs) react in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight to form ozone. Strong concentrations of ozone often occur in and downwind of large urban areas.

During cardiovascular exercise, human exposure to ozone at concentrations both above and below the 120-part-per-billion maximum allowed under the NAAQS has been shown to result in transient respiratory problems.Ozone can also seriously irritate the eyes and mucous membranes. The effects of elevated ozone levels are not known for all types of vegetation, but such levels are harmful to many types of trees and crops. High ozone concentrations seem to be more detrimental than low-level extended exposure.

The assessment of the impact of NOx controls on ozone concentrations is complex and must be studied carefully in developing ozone abatement strategies, according to a 1992 report from a National Research Council committee. The committee found that ambient measurements of VOC/NOx ratios--which, as they vary, have different effects on ozone formation--were larger than expected from an assessment of emission inventories. The committee also determined that the effectiveness of efforts to control VOC and NOx emissions depends on ambient VOC/NOx ratios. Generally, at ratios of 10 or less, VOC control is more effective and NOx control may be counterproductive. At ratios greater than 20, NOx control is generally more effective. Hence, if VOC emission inventories have been understated, past ozone control strategies may have been misdirected. Tighter controls on NOx may be more effective in controlling ozone under certain circumstances.

The committee also found that combinations of biogenic VOCs and anthropogenic NOx can significantly affect ozone formation in some urban and rural regions of the United States and concluded, again, that the appropriate strategy may be to monitor and control NOx emissions.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

From Acid Rain To The Green Economy

Since then, environmental discussions have been increasingly covered by the major media, providing new concepts for public opinion as the science has evolved. And the challenges have become more complex. While the scenario was focused on specific threats in the past, the discussions today emphasize the seriousness of a problem that involves almost all aspects of human life on earth. From the worldwide fear of acid rain to proposals for a Green Economy – this year’s theme for World Environment Day, and one of the main issues being discussed at Rio+20 –, there has been significant progress. 

Forty years ago, the greatest environmental concerns were related to air pollution and the dangers of acid rain. In the more industrialized nations, this precipitation of chemical elements – caused by toxic gases resulting from the burning of coal and oil by industry and automotive vehicles – was becoming extremely harmful to human health, the forests and the oceans. In Brazil, it was the city of Paulo that suffered most from acid rain in the 1970s. Today, the problem is relatively under control, having been mitigated by the installation of filters in factory smoke stacks and catalytic converters in vehicle exhausts.

Another danger that kept scientists awake during the 1970s and 1980s was the formation of a hole in the ozone layer over the skies of Antarctica. Without this chemical element in the stratosphere, living beings are at the mercy of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can cause skin and eye diseases, in addition to changes in plant cells. Chlorofluorocarbon gases, or simply CFCs, commonly used in motors for refrigerators and air conditioners, were discovered to be ozone's big villain – and many countries banned their use in household appliances as the only possible solution to the problem. Fortunately, good sense and scientific investments combined to find an alternative to CFCs, which were gradually replaced by industry.

Advances in understanding the damage that human activity is causing the planet reached another milestone in 1983 when the World Commission on the Environment and Development was created by the U.N. General Assembly. The commission’s mission was to review all the environmental problems known by scientists at that time, propose new approaches and discuss realistic solutions. Greater cooperation between nations, in addition to the creation of international policies and strategies to be put into practice, were necessary. Thus was born, in 1987, the “Our Common Future” report, which coined the concept of “sustainable development” for the first time.

A plan must be drafted in order to achieve this objective. And it was with this intention of effectively putting the concepts formed during the 1980s into practice, that new global meetings took place, such as Rio-92 – which in addition to solidifying the term “sustainability” in the vocabulary of the common man, resulted in concrete actions, agreements and commitments, such as the signing of Agenda 21 by all the authorities in charge.

Five years later, in 1997, the U.N. signed another international agreement with 59 countries in a new conference held in the Japanese city of Kyoto. Known as the Kyoto Protocol, the commitment this time was to reduce emissions of the so-called greenhouse gases (GHG) by 5% in the main industrialized nations, in relation to 1990, in addition to promoting sustainable development in the emerging countries. The Kyoto Protocol took effect in February 2005, after Russia joined it, and is supported by more than 180 countries. The United States and China refused to sign it.

Recently, global preparation for the Rio+20 event has been accompanied by a new term which has appeared in the major media: Green Economy. According to an economist specialized in the environment, Carlos Eduardo Frickmann Young, a professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), the term provides a more practical character to the idea of sustainable development. “Basically, sustainability does not say what to do, but how to do it. The Green Economy is a more specific concept that lays out ‘what to do’: the production and consumption activities compatible with sustainable development,” says Young.

In this sense, the Green Economy is one more step the planet is taking in a discussion that has only grown in complexity over the last four decades.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Clean Air Act - Inhibits Acid Rain

The original Clean Air Act was established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the 1970s. At the time, there were few, if any, provisions made for the reduction od acid rain causing gases. Basically, the Clean AIr act  was the first major legislation aimed at cleaning up our air. Later, there were amendments made to the act. It is in these amendments that we obtained regulations for the production of both SO2 and NOx.

EPA released amendments to the Clean Air Act. In these amendments, EPA made provisions for acid rain, commonly known as Titile IV. Although the provisions affect only a small amount of the sources of acid rain gases, the improvements caused are expected to be significant. With the creation of Title IV, EPA implemented two new concepts. These concepts are:

1. Emissions Trading

2. National Emissions Cap

In order to accomplish its goals, Title IV established a nationwide system of SO2 emission allowances. These allowances are expressed in terms of tons of SO2 emitted per year, and the basic allowance is emission of 1 ton per year of SO2. It is important to note that no source affected by Title IV can emit SO2 without holding an allowance for the emission. If a source does this, it may have to face judicial action. Also, if a source want to increase production and therefore increase emissions, it must obtain an emission allowance from another source that has reduced emissions. This is known as emissions trading.

In addition to the SO2 reduction, Title IV calls for a 2 million ton reduction in NOx. This reduction will be accomplished through burner modifications and will be measured from the amount of NOx that would have been emitted, if no modifications had been made. In terms of NOx emissions, Title IV does not require that industries install post combustion controls for monitoring. Also, unlike the SO2 emission reduction program, there is no NOx emission allowance system or emission cap for NOx.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Aims Of The Acid Rain Project

1. Internalization's of concepts in the acid rain project takes place through application, since meaningful learning is applied learning.

2. The scientific method is not learnt in isolation, but throughout science courses. Planing an experiment as well as data collection and representation should be carried out according to objective criteria. These experimental procedures have importance beyond the confines of scientific disciplines, and can be applied in everyday life.

3. This is an interdisciplinary project dealing with chemistry, biology, environmental science and agriculture. It requires a system approach to examine all aspects of the social problem and questions raised by scientific inquiries with their technological solutions.

4. This project foster computer literacy among students in that they work in a computerized environment that enables them to attain their goals. The project requires the use of different computer applications especially use of data bases both by teachers and students. In today's world the ability to access different kinds of information and to make use of data bases should be a goal for everyone.

5. In this project the computer holds a central position in that it performs various functions: an aid for recording, organizing and graphically representing data; as a communication means so that different groups in different localities, despite distance between them, can participate in the experiment at the same time. Another facet is that participants not in the same location can hold a discussion, and receive advice from each other or experts.

6. The computer acts as a spring /board in promoting the learning process taking place in the classroom as it is an integral part of these project, in that pupils can communicate on-line produce graphic representations, analyze processes and receive advice from experts and their peers. Computer capabilities will supply most of the students' needs.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Air Pollution From Ships - Acid Rain

Emissions from shipping contribute significantly to the concentrations and fallout of harmful air pollutants in Europe.There are however technical means by which these pollutants could be cut by as much as 80–90 per cent, and very cost-effectively compared to achieving similar results by taking further measures for land-based sources.Such reductions are needed to protect health and the environment, and to develop shipping as a more sustainable mode of transport.While pollutant emissions from land-based sources are gradually coming down, those from shipping show a continuous increase.The emissions from ships engaged in international
trade in the seas surrounding Europe – the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the north-eastern part of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea – were estimated at 2.3 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide (SO2), 3.3 million tonnes of nitrogen oxides (NOx), and 250,000 tonnes of fine particles (PM) .Under current legislation, it is expected that shipping emissions of SO2 and NOx will increase by 40–50 per cent up to 2020, as compared to 2000. In both cases, by 2020 the emissions from international shipping around Europe are expected to equal or even surpass the total from all land-based sources in the 27 EU member states combined.It should be noted that these figures, high as they are, refer only to ships in international trade. They do not include emissions from shipping in countries’ internal waterways or from ships plying harbours in the same country, which are given in the domestic statistics of each country.

Global emissions
With no change in international regulations, an Expert Group to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) predicted in autumn 2007 that today’s total of 369 million tonnes of marine fuel consumption would rise to 486 million tonnes by 2020, of which 382 would be heavy fuel oil and 104 would be distillates.Annual SO2 emissions from ships were estimated at 16.2 million tonnes in 2006, rising to 22.7 million tonnes in 2020 under the “business-as-usual” scenario. Emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from ships were estimated at 1,120 million tonnes per year, rising to 1,475 million tonnes in 2020.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Northeast Asia is one of the most dynamic and diverse regions of the world. It contains one of the richest and most highly developed countries of the world, Japan, as well as some of the poorest and most backward areas in North Korea and rural China. It contains regions of extremely rapid growth in population, economic development, and industrial productivity: South Korea and Shanghai, for example. Millions are living in relative luxury; millions are near starvation. As the poorer regions strive to catch up to the more developed ones, the environment is often ignored or given only cursory attention. It often seems that national wealth is a prerequisite for pollution control. But in a region like Northeast Asia, where the rich live and work alongside the poor, all share the burden of environmental degradation. Increasingly, the need for regional cooperation in solving environmental problems becomes apparent. And none more so than with air pollution and acid rain, where the problems do not respect physical or geopolitical boundaries.


For the purposes of this paper, Northeast Asia is defined to include Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and Northeast China. It is inappropriate to include all of China in Northeast Asia, so a region called Northeast China has been established, bounded on the West by the provinces of Inner Mongolia (eastern half), Shanxi, Henan, Anhui, and Zhejiang. The major sources of emissions that influence the Korean peninsular and Japan are located within this part of China. Although Chinese sources outside this region also exert some influence, as do sources as far away as Southeast Asia under certain large-scale cyclonic wind patterns, their effects are generally small and diminish rapidly with distance.

The RAINS-Asia model is a comprehensive analytical tool constructed by an international team of experts and sponsored by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank . Its purpose is to trace the causes of acid deposition in Asia–from population, economic development, energy use, and emissions, through atmospheric transport and deposition, to effects on sensitive ecological receptor systems. The computer model covers 23 countries of Asia, including all countries east of Afghanistan. The entire region is disaggregated into 94 subregions, of which 24 are large metropolitan areas. The RAINS-Asia model provides the capability to examine the effects of alternative energy pathways and emission control strategies on emissions to the atmosphere, and it is this capability that is used in the present analysis to provide a quantitative framework within which to discuss the energy and emission issues facing Northeast Asia.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Effect of foliar spraying acid rain on Cd concentration of peanut grains

Peanut was harvested at maturity. Plant material was digested with nitric and perchloric acids
(5:1). Grain material was first carbonized in a heating plate (200-220?), and then ashed in a
muffle furnace at 500 for 6 h. After cooling, the ash was dissolved with 0.5 mol/L of nitric acid and filtered with quantitative filter paper. Cd contents in the solutions were measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometry

It shows the concentration of Cd in peanut grains at maturity. No significant difference of Cd concentration in grains was found with spraying pure water at any stage (the control). The average concentration of Cd in grains of Yuhua-15 was 0.070 mg/kg in the control, which was significantly higher than that of Huayu-23 (0.031 mg/kg, averagely). The concentrations of Cd in
grains were significantly increased by foliar spray of acid rain at each stage. In which, Cd concentrations in the grains of Yuhua-15 increased by 84%, 26%, 23% and 1% for treatments of spraying at seedling, flowering, podding, and fruit filling stages, respectively, with comparison of the control. While Cd concentrations in the grains of Huayu-23 increased by 229%, 116%, 126% and 90% respectively for treatments of spraying at the above mentioned stages, compared with the control. Overall, the increasing rate of Cd concentration in peanut grains decreased with the delay of spraying acid rain. No matter what time spraying, the absolute grain Cd concentrations of Yuhua-15 were significantly higher than that of Huayu-23, however, the increasing rate of grain Cd concentration of Huayu-23 was significantly higher than that of Yuhua.

Relationship between Cd concentration in the vegetative organs and grains he results in Table 3 shows that, with delay of the time of spraying, Cd concentrations of the vine stems and leaves increased, while Cd concentrations of the roots and pods decreased gradually. There was a positive relationship between Cd concentration of the roots and grains  and a negative relationship between Cd concentrations of the vine stems, leaves and grains .

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Current Initiatives On Prevention Of Acid Rain

The major player with respect to acid rain prevention, not surprisingly, is the federal government. Because fossil fuel combustion is the aggravating circumstance in nearly all acid rain, efforts to reduce smokestack and tailpipe emissions on a national basis have been and remain a high priority for the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA’s most visible current goal is passage of so-called “clear skies” legislation, designed to produce a substantial reduction in sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides. EPA submitted a set of proposals to the U. S. Congress , and re-introduced similar measures in February of this year, with final action still pending. EPA says its proposals would cut power plant emissions of SO2 and NOx by 70 percent by the year 2020, eliminating 35 million more  tons of these pollutants than the current Clean Air Act would allow during the same time frame.

Organizations are leading preservation efforts:
One of the leading players in materials preservation is the National Park Service, which supports the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) in Natchitoches LA. The National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington DC is a private organization which also devotes considerable resources to preservation research. NCPTT, created by an act of Congress, is an interdisciplinary program whose stated mission is “to advance the art, craft and science of historic preservation in the fields of archeology, historic architecture, historic landscapes, objects and materials conservation, and interpretation.” Because such a large number of culturally significant sites are privately held, NCPTT actively shares its research, education and information management resources with private practitioners. Having started up operations less than a decade ago , the Center provides evidence of the government’s growing concern about the long-term effects of acid rain and other pollutants on vulnerable structures.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Acid Rain Impacts

Location of acid rain and trends
Urban air pollution is probably the most well-known problem created by rapid industrialization. Air pollution around major factories, thermal power plants, open mines and quarries has attracted a lot of attention. Rain over India is much less acidic than most of the other countries in Asia, Europe and North America. However, it has become more and more acidic over the last few decades.

The pH of rain in India ranges from 5.9 to 8.4, and the average is about 6.7. India seems to be much better off than the USA (4.15–6.19), Canada (4.23–5.96), Germany (4.05–4.25), Norway (4.10–4.40), and most other countries. However, there are places in India where things are not so good. Parts of south Bihar and West Bengal are likely to be the worst affected, along with the southernmost tip of the Indian peninsula. Occasional rains with a pH of 4.8 have been reported from Chembur in Mumbai and a pH of 4.5 from Delhi. The more worrying trend is the gradual acidification of the rain in India over the last couple of decades – the pH has decreased from 7.0 to 6.1 in Delhi, and from 9.1 to 6.3 in Agra.

Causes and impacts
Thermal power plants in India, which generally use coal with relatively high sulphur content (0.5 per cent to three per cent), are the major source of oxides of sulphur – they release about 2,500 tons per year. Oxides of nitrogen are produced during high-temperature combustion. The greatest source of nitrogen oxides is road vehicles.

India has been rather lucky to have predominantly alkaline-rich soils. For example, in the Thar Desert in the northwest of India, the aerosols from coastal areas help reduce the acidity to a considerable extent. Higher temperatures prevalent in India also contribute towards transforming the oxides of sulphur to sulphates and oxides of nitrogen to nitrates. India also does not have natural sources of sulphur emission like volcanoes. These factors have kept the acid rain in check so far. However, the emissions from the increasing number of power plants, industries, fossil-fuel burning and vehicles have gradually begun to overcome the natural checks. In 1990, none of the ecosystems in India was threatened by acid rain. However, if steps are not taken to control emissions, by the year 2020 about 85 per cent of the ecosystems will be threatened by acid rain.

Possible solutions
India’s solutions are similar to that of many other countries: the use of cleaner fuels, a gradual switching to renewable energy and the use of catalytic converters. In addition, a 66–130 million-hectare wasteland should provide enough ground for growing biomass and using renewable sources of energy in a sustainable manner.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Acid Rain Problems Faced Currently

Acid rain refers to precipitation, both wet and dry, that is acidic in nature. Precipitation like sleet, rain, snow or dry acidic components that have a pH of less than 4.0 is termed as acid rain. This phenomenon is the result of industrial and vehicular emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides reacting in the Earth's atmosphere.

Acid rain is associated with atmospheric pollution. Today, a myriad of highly deleterious environmental effects are being researched upon. The occurrence results in a precipitous pH value of around 4.0. Every subsequent decrease in the pH value is indicative of a greater acidic composition. Acid rain with pH readings well below 2.4 are being reported consistently from industrialized areas, initiating the need for the development of smokestacks. The acidification is largely triggered by the increased presence of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere. Emissions from the burning of fossil fuel, industry combustion, wildfires and volcanic eruptions add to the existent quantum of acid-producing gases in the atmosphere. The other causes are emissions from electricity generating plants and motor vehicles.

The harmful gases traverse across hundreds of kilometers before converting into acids, causing widespread ecological damage. It has an adverse impact on our forests, soils, flora and fauna that thrive in various ecosystems, and human health. The phenomenon has eliminated certain life forms completely, while adversely affecting the quality of soil biology and chemistry. The forest cover, too, has been extensively damaged, while the precipitation continues to threaten human health with the onslaught of premature death and specific particulate health effects. The phenomenon has not spared the inanimate either. It continues to threaten the survival of historical monuments and structures with the sulfuric acid induced flaking of limestone, marble, sandstone and granite.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Acid rain's legacy in US rivers

Despite the decline of acid rain, its legacy still taints the rivers of the eastern US, but in an unexpected way. Following stringent air pollution controls, the acid rain that devastated forests, ponds and small streams in the eastern US has been diminishing since its peak in the 1970s. 

Now the opposite problem, excessive alkalinity, has emerged in the same area. New researchhas found that 62 of 97 large rivers, from New Hampshire to Florida, have become increasinglyalkaline since the mid 20th century. "Alkalinity is typically thought of as a good thing," says Sujay Kaushal at the University of Maryland in College Park, but it can stimulate the overgrowth of algae and wreak havoc with public water supplies.


It looks like alkaline by-products of acid-neutralising processes had built up in the rocks and soil, and are now leaching into the rivers.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Acid Rain Effect On Environment

Acid rain in the U.S. is becoming a major environmental issue. This paper reviews the known information regarding pollution sources, impact on the environment and the role of the automobile in acid rain. Although natural sources of sulfur and nitrogen pollutants are equal to or greater than man-made sources on a global scale, many scientists believe man's activities are the major cause of high levels of acidity. 

Attempts to relate specific sources of SO2 to specific acid rain events in the northeastern U.S. have been unsuccessful. The roles of tall stacks, long range transport and dry vs. wet deposition are incompletely understood. Temporal and geographic trends in acidity are not well defined except for increased acidity in the southeast.

Leaves - Acid Rain

About 30% of the acidity in rain in the northeast is due to HNO3. In the process of utilizing nitrates as a nutrient, plants partly neutralize the affect of HNO3 in the rain. Pollutants, mainly NOx emitted by passenger cars make a small contribution, less than 6%, to acid rain in the northeast. In California the percent is estimated to be less than 19%. These estimates would be smaller if allowance were made for the contribution of natural sources of NOx and SOx

Saturday, October 5, 2013

An update on acid rain in Vermont

Several decades have passed since acid rain became a common catch phrase in most American households. Scientists and environmental groups blamed Midwest power producers, claiming that sulfur from coal power plants was entering the atmosphere, polluting the air and falling in the form of acid rain over places like New England, polluting lakes and killing trees.

More than 30 years later the battle has subsided but scientists say acid rain hasn't gone away."I think it's still a big problem," said Gary Hawley, a researcher at the University of Vermont.Now several decades later, most lakes and ponds have recovered from the effects of acid rain, but that same success isn't evident in the soil, where the effects of acid rain are long lasting.

"We are actually seeing a continued problem with forests in particular," said Paul Schaberg of the U.S. Forest Service. "The soil is not rebounding; the calcium is not coming back in those places."

Hawley and Schaberg are two of the leading acid rain experts in Vermont. After years of research they now know calcium is vital to a tree's physiology and that acid rain stresses trees by depleting calcium in the soil. Much of their research is conducted in New Hampshire where millions of dollars have been spent treating an entire watershed with calcium, restoring the forest to pre-acid rain levels.

"It's been remarkable," Schaberg said. "Every species we look at responds to the native stresses that are out there better than when the calcium is back."Today many New England forests still suffer from the acid rain of the 1980s and 90s. It takes a long time for calcium to build back up in the soil. But there are signs things are getting better."We've shown less acidity in the rain coming in more recently," Hawley said. "However it's not a huge change."Hawley credits clean air legislation in the 90s that forced coal plants and others to reduce emissions. But he cautions the acid rain problem is far from solved.

Thirty years later, acid rain is still taking its toll on the ecosystem. A problem Hawley says is now compounded by climate change and rising levels of car pollution."The same pollution in the air adding to climate change is the kind of pollution that's acidifying the atmosphere as well," he said.And that's why both of these men say events like

Friday, October 4, 2013

Calcium – Saves Forests Damaged by Acid Rain

The majority of people think about teeth and bones when they hear about calcium. However, this is something that the trees need in order to grow. According to the latest studies, calcium can help reverse the effects of acid rain on forests.

The Study
It is a well-known fact that acid rain is bad for the forests. The study proves that exposure to acid rain decreases the calcium levels of the soil which, in turn, affects the growth of trees. The researchers studied data gathered over 15 years and reached conclusions that can change the way green living is perceived at the moment.

The Results
The study shows that the calcium levels are directly linked to tree growth. The results show that the areas that received calcium produced 11% more leaves and 21% more trees than the untreated regions. It is interesting to know that sugar maples seemed to be the most responsive to the treatment.

Acid Rain
Acid rain is produced in the moment when nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide react with the water found in the air. The regions with naturally acidic soils respond very fast to the presence of acid rain.

Clean Air Act
This act limited the exposure to acid rain. Nonetheless we might say that it is too little too late because large areas have already been affected by acid rain. As part of the Hubbard Brook study, a helicopter spread over 40 tons of calcium over 29 acres of forest land. The researchers say that this was not fertilization; they just tried to make up for the nutrients that the soil was stripped of.

The Findings
The specialists noticed that the regions that were treated with calcium managed to recover faster from natural disasters, such as an ice storm, than the regions that weren’t treated.

Although the study has been conducted in the U.S., it is important to note that the situation is similar in Canada and Europe as well. Although calcium seems to be working like magic, we have to add that it’s not worth to treat large areas. Instead, people should be focusing on watersheds.

As we all know, prevention is more important than treatment. It is a proven fact that acid rain affects the forests negatively and this might determine the governments to take steps towards their improvement, especially because of the economic impacts that the lack of forests can bring.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Acid rain over Britain

A new report on Britain's environment found that levels of sulphur in our atmosphere have dropped 90 per cent compared with their peak level in the 1950s.

Now a similar political drive is needed to tackle the problem of nitrogen emissions from cars, power stations and farms and prevent the pollution from killing off wild flowers, experts said.
Having too much nitrogen in the atmosphere over-fertilises the Earth and allows grasses and weeds such as nettles to flourish, causing the disappearance of wild flowering plants.

The warning came in a new report led by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, which analysed how the chemical climate of the UK has changed in recent decades.In the 1970s sulphur pollution released in Britain caused acid rain which damaged limestone buildings and made freshwater lakes in Britain and Scandinavia more acidic, killing fish.During the 1980s Mrs Thatcher's government committed to tackling the problem, resulting in a major improvement in the cleanliness of air and water, but similar efforts are needed to tackle the problems of ground level ozone pollution and nitrogen, the report said.

Prof David Fowler, who led the study, said: "Margaret Thatcher decided there was a problem and we needed to fix only have to see the air quality across the UK, how clean the air is, to see we've made big progress."No-one has decided to do the same for nitrogen. There is no great policy we have to fix the nitrogen problem, and that is why it is generally becoming a bigger issue."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cemeteries Are Best Place To Track Acid Rain - Gravestone Project

To a geologist, a gravestone can offer information other rocks can't. One project is using gravestones to better understand how the elements, particularly acid rain, are weathering rocks around the world, and how that's changed over time.

"It is a great place for us to collect scientific data because gravestones have got dates on them, it is not that we have a morbid fascination," said Gary Lewis, director of education and outreach for the Geological Society of America, which is in charge of the Gravestone Project.

That date of death gives a good estimate of when the stone went into the ground above the grave and began to face elements. The wear and tear on the stone that follows can be caused by freezing and thawing temperatures, lawn care machinery and rain made acidic by pollutants it has picked up in its course through the atmosphere.The Gravestone Project recruits volunteers around the world to head into cemeteries where they use calipers to measure the width of a stone at five points along its sides and at its top. If a stone has lead letters on it, volunteers measure how much the stone has worn away from the lettering. Volunteers are asked to do this work respectfully.

With the data they have so far, the researchers are looking at weathering rates over time and at potential links with atmospheric changes. Specifically, Lewis is interested in seeing if periods of increased rain in particular areas accelerated weathering rates, and if the arrival of the Industrial Revolution — and the increase in pollution that accompanied it — are reflected in increased gravestone weathering, and how the weathering rate has changed since the Industrial Revolution.

So far, they've seen that cemeteries in big cities seem to be weathering most rapidly, he said. This isn't a surprise since more acid rain-causing pollutants, particularly sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, are released over urban areas.

At that cemetery and another in central Pennsylvania, Boalsburg Cemetery, she and her students have undertaken a wide range of projections, including comparing weathering rates of different types of stones (nearly all are granite or marble), and gleaning information about the history of the local community, such as how long people lived

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ecosystem Region in United States

A pH of 5.6 is not a defensible value for defining the acidity level of "clean" or "pure" or "unpolluted" rain.
  • The sensitive ecosystem region in the United States for which there is some reasonable documentation of damage to aquatic systems is largely confined to the Adirondacks area in New York and portions of New England.
  • Large areas of the northeastern United States receive precipitation with an annual average pH ranging between 4.0 and 4.6.
  • There is no evidence of increasing acidity in the precipitation falling on the Adirondacks. or New England over the last two decades.
  • Lake chemistry is affected by a variety of factors -- with the natural acidity of soils and adjacent wetlands being important, perhaps the major source of acidity.
  • Many lakes even in the absence of man made air pollution are undoubtedly inhospitable environments for sustaining fish populations.
  • Fish restocking practices and fishing pressure must be taken into account when using fishing quality as an indicator of environmental influences.
  • Fewer than 25 per cent of the sampled lakes in the ' Adirondacks are acidified (i.e., pH less than 5.0) and the rate of change is so slow (if at all) that it is questionable whether any changes-can be detected over the next decade or two.
  • Alleged damage to forests by acid deposition, especially red spruce, is unverified at this time. Declines in forests seem to be tied to a drought which occurred during the late 1950's and early 1960's and/or to high levels of atmospheric ozone.
  • Alleged impacts on agricultural crops and materials of construction are only hypothetical at the present and there is no scientific evidence supporting these claims.
  • Alleged impacts on public health, especially the claim that sulfates cause 51,000 excess deaths per year are totally unsupported by credible scientific evidence and analyses.
  • There is no evidence to support a conclusion that acid precipitation produces adverse health effects in drinking waters.
  • Tall stacks do not have the effect on long-range transport once believed.
  • Sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, and reactive hydrocarbons are all involved in the production of acid deposition.
  •  The Northeast has a significant emission inventory of sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, and volatile organic compounds.
  •  Emission densities are a better indicator of the potential for acid deposition formation than are absolute emission rates. Emission densities of these pollutants are about the same in the Northeast as in the Midwest.
  •   The potential for production of oxidants is higher in the Northeast than in the Midwest suggesting that rapid transformation of precursors from sources in the Northeast to acid deposition in the Northeast is occurring.
  •  Pathways by which precipitation and acidity arrive at points of concern are varied; less than half seems to arrive from the direction of the Midwest industrial region while more than half seems to be generated in the Northeast.
  •  Wet deposition trends at Hubbard Brook in sulfate and nitrate are closely matched with emission trends of SO2 and NOx in the Northeast suggesting that sources in the Northeast may be controlling the chemical composition of wet acidic deposition falling in the Northeast and that emission sources in the Midwest play a relatively minor role.

The above conclusions seem to suggest that 
(1)We do not have an environmental crisis at our doorstep; 
(2)There is still a great deal that is unknown or only partially understood; 
(3)Additional research is warranted before additional emission control programs are instituted; 
(4)The present Clean Air Act will provide continuing protection to the environment while the research is being conducted; 
(5) The components of the popular theory are not securely founded on fact;
(6)An effective control program to protect the sensitive ecosystem areas in the Northeast must focus on controlling acid deposition sources of SO2, NOX , and volatile organic compounds in the Northeast.