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What happened to acid rain? I remember hearing lots about it in the early 90s but nothing since.

Sophia Williams Sophia Williams Jun 30, 2021 · 2 mins read
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Acid rain was a major environmental concern during the 1980s and 1990s. The phenomenon was caused by emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which react with the atmosphere to produce sulfuric acid and nitric acid. These acids can fall back to the earth in rain or snow, causing damage to buildings, forests, and freshwater bodies. Acid rain was responsible for killing fish in lakes and rivers, damaging crops and forests, and eroding ancient monuments and buildings.

In response to this environmental threat, the United States and Canada signed the Acid Rain Program in 1990, aimed at reducing the emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The program set targets for emission reductions, and companies were required to purchase permits for their emissions. The program was successful in reducing sulfur dioxide emissions in the U.S. by 36%, and nitrogen oxide emissions by 53% between 1990 and 2017.

In addition to the Acid Rain Program, European countries also took measures to reduce their emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The European Union established the National Emissions Ceiling Directive in 2001, which set limits on emissions of pollutants including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. As a result, European emissions of sulfur dioxide fell by 71% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 43% between 1990 and 2011.

These actions have had a positive impact on the environment, with the levels of acid rain decreasing in many areas. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the number of acidic lakes and streams in the U.S. has decreased from 3,500 in the 1980s to 300 in 2016. Similarly, the number of acidic soils in Europe has decreased, and the pH levels of many lakes and rivers have improved.

Despite these improvements, acid rain is still a problem in some parts of the world. Rapid industrialization in some developing countries has led to increased emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, resulting in high levels of acid rain. In addition, climate change can exacerbate the effects of acid rain, as warmer temperatures can increase the acidity of soil and water. However, efforts to reduce emissions through programs like the Acid Rain Program and the National Emissions Ceiling Directive provide a model for future environmental regulations.

In conclusion, acid rain was a major environmental concern in the 1980s and 1990s, but significant efforts were made to reduce emissions of pollutants. Programs like the Acid Rain Program and the National Emissions Ceiling Directive were successful in reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, leading to decreased levels of acid rain in many areas. While the problem has not been completely eliminated, the progress made in addressing acid rain provides hope for future environmental challenges.

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Sophia Williams
Written by Sophia Williams
Always exploring new horizons and pushing the boundaries.