Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan testified before Congress on acid rain. A longtime champion of the issue, Moynihan stated that "As far back as the s, fishermen in the Adirondacks began to complain about more than 'the big one that got away. At the time, little was known about the magnitude and distribution of acid rain or about its impacts on terrestrial land-based and aquatic ecosystems. However, many believed that acid rain and the air pollutants that caused it posed a threat to forests, aquatic life, crops, structures e.
Acid Rain What is acid rain Acid Rain is any type of precipitation with acidic components that falls to the ground from the atmosphere. It can be wet or dry. These compounds can be carried away by air currents for hundreds of miles.
They fall back to earth in the form of rain, sleet, hail, snow and dust. Causes Most acid rain is caused by humans in the form of burning of fossil fuels. A very small percentage of acid rain is caused by natural causes such as volcanoes or wildfires.
The biggest source of acid rain producing pollutants comes from power plants that burn coal to produce electricity, as well as cars, trucks, busses and construction vehicles that emit nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in the form of exhaust. Effects of acid rain The pollutants that cause acid rain also cause smog and fine particle pollution, both of which harm human health.
Because sulfur- and nitrogen-based air pollution travel long distances, they are a problem for everyone -- and everything -- downwind of the smokestack or tailpipe, not just those in close proximity to power plants.
Humans- The same pollution that causes acid rain also cause respiratory disease and worsen existing conditions. Acid rain also causes mercury contamination of the food chain, including fish, fish-eating birds and fish-eating mammals such as people.
Forests and Plants- When acid rain seeps into the soil, it dissolves and eliminates nutrients needed for healthy tree growth, such as calcium.
At the same time, it releases aluminum from the soil, which trees absorb. The aluminum kills tree roots, making it harder for trees to get water. These combined stresses cause otherwise healthy trees to die from extremes of cold, drought or disease that they would easily survive in non-acidic conditions.
This is especially true at high elevations, where all three stress factors are increased and soils are thinnest and nutrient-poorest. Wildlife- By robbing the soil of calcium, acid rain weakens and kills insects, snails and other calcium-shelled invertebrates that summit-nesting birds eat to survive.
By releasing aluminum from the soil, acid rain destroys adult fish gills, suffocating them.
It also halts reproduction by making fish egg membranes too tough for hatchlings to break. Buildings, monuments and sculpture- Acidic precipitation erodes stone, brick and concrete buildings; cemetery headstones and mausoleums, bronze statues and monuments; copper roofing and drains; and, leaded stained-glass windows.
Water supplies- Both on-site wells and municipal water supplies become corrosive if they are allowed to become acidic. Long before the tragedy in Flint, MI, Adirondack homeowners and local governments struggled to identify and correct the source of high levels of copper and lead in local tap water, but not before people were sickened by drinking their pipes.
Smog at high elevations- Ground-level ozone smog is worst in the Adirondacks at high elevations, as pollution wafting from other states passes over our mountains. Black Flies- Adding insult to a long list of injuries, Canadian studies show that the larvae of black flies, the bane of spring outdoor activities in the Northeast and southern Canada, seem to thrive in acidic waters.
Acid rain kills the fish that eat black fly larvae as well as the other insects that would compete for stream-bottom space with black fly eggs.
Scenic vistas- Sulfur dioxide pollution causes haze that restricts visibility and obscures scenic views in mountain ranges. Where does acid rain occur? The Adirondack Park has suffered the worst acid rain damage in the nation.
But we are not suffering alone. Nearby, the Catskill Mountains, the Taconic Ridge and east end of Long Island are all areas where acid rain has caused significant harm.
Out West in the Rocky Mountains, power plant emissions are saturating high-elevation watersheds in Colorado with acid-causing nitrogen. There, evergreen forests are losing their needles and tree health is declining throughout the Front Range. Acid rain damage is not limited to forests and aquatic ecosystems.
In Pennsylvania, the monuments at the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg are deteriorating far more quickly than similar structures in places not affected by acid rain. Throughout the Northeast, stone, brick and block buildings, as well as automobile finishes, show signs of more extensive and rapid weathering than counterparts in other regions of the country.
In the Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound, nitrogen-based pollution is overloading the water with nutrients. This contributes to the overabundance of algae, which when they die and decay, deplete the water of precious oxygen needed by all aquatic animals. The condition is known as hypoxia. Why is acid rain damage worse in the Adirondacks?
The air pollution that causes acid rain has been falling on some areas of the United States for nearly a century.An official website of the United States government. People with asthma, as well as children and the elderly are generally at greater risk for the health effects of NO 2.
Acid rain harms sensitive ecosystems such as lakes and forests. Learn more about Acid Rain. The issue of acid rain emerged in the United States in the mids. At the time, little was known about the magnitude and distribution of acid rain or about its impacts on terrestrial (land-based) and aquatic ecosystems.
Acid rain, however, has caused many lakes and streams in the northeast United States and certain other places to have much lower pH levels. In addition, aluminum that is released into the soil eventually ends up in lakes and streams.
Acid deposition also causes clay soils to release aluminum and magnesium, further lowering the pH in some areas. If the pH of a lake drops below , its plants and animals risk death. It is estimated that around 50, lakes in the United States and Canada have a pH below normal (about for water).
But, acid rain can have a pH of about , and can even be in the 4 range in the northeastern United States, where there are a lot of industries and cars. Effects of acid rain. You might expect that sheltered areas of stone buildings and monuments would not be affected by acid precipitation.
However, sheltered areas on limestone and. Acid rain has been implicated in forest and soil degradation in many areas of the eastern United States, particularly high elevation forests of the Appalachian Mountains from Maine to Georgia. Acid rain does not usually kill trees directly.