Acid rain is normal rain to begin with; the kind rain people once loved singing in. When water vapor combines with pollutants in the air and reaches a pH level less then 5. 6, it turns deadly, into acid rain. Acid rain is responsible for many of the serious environmental problems.

It is the very thing that one-day may kill us all. When factories burn coal and oil, which contain large amounts of sulfur, sulfur dioxide is formed. The exhaust from gasoline-powered vehicles contains nitric oxide. When sunlight strikes nitric oxide in the air, it is combined with oxygen to form nitrogen dioxide. Both sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide dissolve in water to form strong acids.

Sulfur dioxide forms sulfuric acid and nitrogen dioxide forms nitric acid. When these acids come down to earth they harm forests, lakes, animals, humans and stone structures. Acid rain has an effect much like dominoes. It only takes one domino to knock them all down. When acid rain pollutes lakes, its not just harming one thing, it effects the whole life cycle. There are several ways acid rain can enter lakes.

Some chemical substances exist as dry particles in the atmosphere, while others enter directly into the lake in a form of precipitation. Acid rain that has fallen on land can be drained through sewage systems leading to lakes. Another way acids can enter the lake is by spring acid shock. When acid snow melts in the spring, the acids in the snow seep into the ground.

Some run off the ground, and into lakes. Acid rain dissolves toxic metals such as aluminum and mercury found in rocks, which gets into rivers and lakes and soaks into soil. Minerals in the soil, which has been contaminated with acid rain, become so acidic that plants can no longer absorb nutrients and eventually die. Over the years, scientists have noticed forests have been growing more and more slowly for unknown reasons. Trees do not grow as fast as they did before. Leaves and pines needles turn brown and fall off when they are supposed to be green.

Eventually, after several years of study of this problem, researchers have found this was the work of acid rain. Acid rain also affects fish. It decreases the amount of calcium in fish's bones. Fish then become humpbacked and deformed. This causes a problem in reproduction: the eggs are too brittle or weak. The aluminum in the water also prevents fish from breathing.

If the water is extremely acidic fish and other aquatic organisms die. The Swedish National Environmental board says 20, 000 lakes are not fish able out of their 100, 000 lakes. The fish in the lakes have become infected with acid rain. Acid rain does not only damage the natural ecosystems, but also man-made materials and structures. Marble, limestone, and sandstone can easily be dissolved by acid rain. Metals, paints, textiles, and ceramic can easily be decomposed.

Acid rain can downgrade leather and rubber. Man-made materials slowly deteriorate even when exposed to normal rain, but acid rain helps speed up the process. Acid rain causes carvings and monuments made from stone to lose their features. The repairs on buildings and monuments can be quite costly. In Westminster, England, up to ten million pounds was spent on repairs to structures damaged by acid rain. In 1990, the United States spent thirty-five billion dollars on paint damage.

In 1985, the Cologne Cathedral cost the Germans approximately twenty million dollars in repairs. The Roman monuments cost the Romans about two hundred million dollars to repair. [ web > Most importantly, acid rain can affect the health of a human being. It can harm humans through the atmosphere or through the soil from which their food is grown.

Aluminum and mercury might be absorbed in the drinking water, crops, or animals that humans consume. These foods that are consumed could cause nerve damage to children or severe brain damage or death. Scientists suspect aluminum is relate to the Alzheimer's disease. One of the serious side effects of acid rain on humans is respiratory problems. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide can cause respiratory problems such as dry coughs, asthma, headaches, eye, nose, and throat irritation. Polluted rainfall is especially harmful to those who suffer from asthma or those who have a hard time breathing.

But even healthy people can have their lungs damaged by acid air pollutants. Acid rain can aggravate a person's ability to breathe and may increase disease, which could lead to death. Acid rain goes was evident back in history. From 1950 to 1975, acid rain increased from 5. 4 tons to 18. 6 tons.

At this point people were just beginning to discover the harmful effects from industries and factories. The factories that were being built polluted heavily which made it hard to breath. People thought if they could get the smoke higher into the air that it would solve their problems. However, by creating the taller smoke stacks it created acid rain.

That was just the beginning of their problems. In 1976, people were starting to complain. Their once clean air was now polluted by smoke. In 1978, maple syrup producers reported their trees were dying from unknown causes.

Acid rain is what was killing the trees. In the US, the serious effort against local and regional air pollution began with the Clean Air Act of 1970, which was amended in 1977 and 1990. In 1970, 15 federal pollution programs were combined under an independent federal agency called the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is directly responsible to the President of the US. The agency has the power to set and enforce pollution standards, to conduct research, and to assist state and local governments in pollution control. In 1980, the United States and Canada signed a Memorandum of Intent, to work toward reducing trans-boundary pollution.

In February 1982, Canada proposed reducing sulfur dioxide emissions in eastern Canada by 50%, if the United States would do the same. In March 1984, Canada joined with nine European nations in the International 30% Club. The members pledged to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions in their countries by 30% by 1993. In March 1985, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada, and President, Ronald Regan of the U. S. , met to study the acid rain problem.

They recommended a five billion dollar joint industry-government program in the U. S. to make new ways to burn coal cleanly. During their next meeting, in 1986, Reagan agreed to commit 800 million dollars to study the problem. A number of states have taken control of this problem by passing strict acid rain control laws.

In 1988, the United States and 24 other nations agreed on the Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Agreement to hold their production of nitrogen oxides, a key contributor to acid rain, to current levels. In the Montreal Protocol, adopted in 1987 and strengthened in 1990 and 1992, most nations agreed to stop or reduce the manufacture of Css. In 1992 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiated a treaty outlining cooperative efforts to curb global warming. The treaty, which took effect in March 1994, has been legally accepted in 160 of the 165 participating countries. What we can do, as citizens, to reduce sulfur and nitrogen dioxide emissions is to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Car pools, public transportation, or walking can reduce tons of nitrogen oxide emissions, because transportation makes up 43 percent of the emissions.

Using less energy benefits the environment, because the energy used comes from fossil fuels, which can lead to acid rain. For example, turning off lights not being used, and reduce air conditioning and heat usage. Replacing old appliances and electronics with newer energy efficient products is also an excellent idea. Adding scrubbers to utility plants can reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.

An alternative power source can also be used in power plants to reduce emissions. These alternatives are: geothermal energy, solar power energy, wind energy, and water energy. This is important because industrial combustion makes up 32% percent of nitrogen oxide. In conclusion, the two primary sources of acid rain is sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Automobiles are the main source of nitrogen oxide emissions, and utility factories are the main source for sulfur dioxide emissions. These gases evaporate into the atmosphere and then oxidized in clouds to form nitric or nitrous acid and sulfuric acid.

When these acids fall back to the earth they do not cause damage to just the environment, but also to human health. Acid rain kills plant life and destroys life in lakes and ponds. The pollutants in acid rain cause problems in human respiratory systems. The pollutants infect humans indirectly through the foods they consume. They affect human health directly when humans inhale the pollutants.

Governments have passed laws to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, but it is of no use, unless people start to work together in stopping the release of these pollutants. If the acid rain destroys our environment, eventually it will destroy us as well.