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Rain Of Troubles This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The term "acid rain" has gained much attention and notoriety since the 1960s. Many scientists strongly believed that chemicals and gases from steel mills in the Midwest would join the jet stream and be deposited on the eastern United States. These destructive chemicals were expected to defoliate trees, poison lakes, kill aquatic life, ruin cars, and destroy the land. Warnings were made. However, since then, none of these obvious signs have occurred. At least that's what many people think today.

Acid rain is a serious form of air pollution that has been blamed for the erosion of ancient structures, damage to crops and forests, and the depletion of life in freshwater lakes. It is created when high concentrations of acidic compounds (such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide) combine with atmospheric moisture to produce sulfuric and nitric acids, which are deposited as rain, snow, or fog. The burning of fossil-fuels by companies and industries is the most significant factor that causes acidic rain. This has become a global problem because the pollutants may be carried a long distance from their source, which means that areas of high industrialization in one part of the world can create acid rain even in a distant, undeveloped region.

Although the damage of acid rain is not as catastrophic as once predicted, it is still a major issue that needs a solution. Acid rain changes the pH of lakes and oceans which can affect the lives of plants and animals that live there. Fish and other animals (such as frogs) have an extremely difficult time adapting to an acidic environment. Numerous plants have been damaged by the rain. For example this acid rain damage is found in the Black Forest of Germany, where much of this evergreen forest is actually black because the acid has destroyed the green needles, leaving only black trunks and limbs.

What can be done to reduce the impact of acidic rain? The 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act created regulations to reduce the release of sulfur dioxide from power plants by the year 2000. Methods for controlling air pollution include removing the hazardous material before it is used, removing pollutanst after it is formed, or altering the process so that the pollutant is not formed. Industrial companies can trap emissions in filters, and pollutant gases can be collected and converted into less harmful substances. Automobile pollutants can be reduced by burning the gasoline as completely as possible, and by using equipment (such as catalytic converters) to reduce harmful exhaust.

Although the effects of the acid rain are not as drastic as originally predicted, it is still a major environmental concern and should be taken more seriously. As long as rapid industrialization occurs, new global regulations and technologies are needed to reduce the impact of industrial pollutants. This is a great challenge for generations to come. ^


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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