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Acid Rain

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Gabrielle Brow

on 14 October 2014

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Transcript of Acid Rain

Precipitation that results from relatively high concentrations of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides in the atmosphere
pH 5.6
Recorded in US- pH 4.3
Better known as "acid deposition"
What is acid rain?
Policy & community/ global responses
By: Gabby Brow, Haley Fiorucci, Matt Woodall
Acid Rain
Wet Deposition
Occurs in areas with wet weather
Rain, snow, sleet, fog
Dry Deposition
Occurs in areas with dry weather
Acid becomes a part of dust and smoke and falls to the Earth
Sticks on the ground, buildings, homes, statues, cars, trees, etc.
Half of the acidity falls to the Earth as dry deposition
What causes acid rain?
Occurs when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides react with chemicals in the atmosphere and form acidic compounds
Natural Releases of Chemicals
Volcanoes erupting
Rotting vegetation
Man Made Release of Chemicals
Burning of fossil fuels
Exhaust from automobiles
Chemical plants
Effects on Human Health
Looks, tastes, feels like normal rain
Sulfur dioxide and Nitrogen oxides can harm human body when in small particles
Increased levels of particles inhaled linked to increased respiratory illnesses like asthma and chronic bronchitis, premature death, heart and lung disorders
Effects on materials, cars, statues, etc.
Damage to automobile coverings
Corrosion of metals, deterioration of paint and stone
Visibility impairment
Sulfur dioxide and Nitrogen oxides cause visibility impairment at national parks
Clean Air Act 1972
Goal: restore and maintain chemical, physical, and biological integrity of nation's waters
Vetoed by Nixon, but Congress overrode veto 10:1 vote
Clean Air Act Amendments 1990
EPA starts Acid Rain Program
Goal: reduce Sulfur dioxide and Nitrogen oxide emissions
Put limit on how much Sulfur dioxide and Nitrogen oxide power plants can release
What can you do?
Reduce pollution
Use other energy sources
Use products with Energy Star labels
Reduce number of miles driven in car
*Over 60 year period*
1962- Silent Spring released by Rachel Carson
April 22, 1970- America's first Earth Day
Clean Air Act of 1970
Regulate air emission of Sulfur dioxide and Nitrogen oxides
Authorized Environmental Protection Agency to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards to protect public health, welfare, and to regulate hazardous air pollutants
Effects on nature - forests
Slower growth, injury, death of forests
Acid rain doesn't directly kill trees; weakens them through leaf damage and nutrient limitation
Dissolves nutrients in the soil and washes them away
Acidic water can also cause soil to release toxic substances such as aluminum
Loss of nutrients makes vegetation more susceptible to other environmental factors
Effects on nature - aquatic life
Effects of acid rain are most notable in aquatic environments
Acid rain runs into lakes and streams; falls directly on aquatic habitats
Bodies of water surrounded by soil of low buffering capacity are most affected
Acid rain causes soil to release aluminum which also runs into aquatic habitats; is highly toxic
Aquatic life (cont'd)
Acid rain - harms/kills individual fish, reduces fish populations, completely eliminates fish populations from water bodies, decreases biodiversity
Low pH and high aluminum levels are directly toxic to fish
If not directly toxic, leads to chronic stress in fish; lower weight and smaller body size which makes survival more difficult
Aquatic life (con't):
Some types of plants and animals are more able to tolerate acidic water; generally the young of species cannot tolerate low pH well
Biodiversity is affected as some species continue to thrive while others die out completely
Reducing Acid Rain
Understanding Acid Rain
People need to understand how acid rain damages the environment; their role in the issue
Need to understand all possible changes that can be made
Clean up Smokestacks and Exhaust Pipes
Reducing SO2 emissions:
Using coal containing less sulfur
Washing coal
Using scrubbers to chemically remove SO2 from gases leaving smokestacks
Burning natural gas
Not burning fossil fuels
Clean up Smokestacks and Exhaust Pipes (cont'd):
Reducing NOx emissions:
Maintaining catalytic converters
Maintaining tailpipe restrictions
Altering gasoline, making it burn cleaner
Requires partnership between power plant companies and the government to find cost-effective air pollution reduction strategies
Alternative energy sources:
Other sources of energy include: nuclear power, hydropower, wind energy, geothermal energy, solar energy
Natural gas, batteries, fuel cells available to power vehicles
Nuclear, hydropower, coal are cheapest
Technological advancements and developments may allow for alternative energy sources to be more cost-effective
Restoring the Environment:
Acid rain penetrates the fabric of ecosystems; restoration takes time; acidified lakes, forests, soils can take years, decades, even centuries to heal
"Liming" is a process that can help to bring back lakes and streams on a short-term scale
Is expensive, has to be done repeatedly; does not solve broad-term acidification issues or address materials/human health issues
Useful for allowing native fish populations to survive until emissions reductions are seen in an area
Assessing Current Legislation:
EPA scientists and colleagues must assess reductions; ensure they are aligned with Acid Rain Program
If reductions are not up to par, Congress may consider additional legislation, or a focus on energy efficiency and alternate energy
Stakeholders in Acid Rain

Stakeholders in acid rain

Affect vs. Affected
Acid Rain as a Wicked Problem
What a wicked problem is

Acid rain as a wicked problem

Problems make problems, and solutions make problems

What stakeholders can do
Treating symptoms


Finding a cure
Big stakeholders with Acid Rain
Acid rain affects nature, and those who profit from it

More acid rain, less profit

Less acid rain, less profit
Tackling a Wicked Problem


Lasting effects on the environment
Baby steps

Environmental recovery

Lasting effects
List of Sources
Full transcript