Acid RainAcid rain is precipitation that is unusually acidic, and is mostly caused by man-made emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. Chemicals in the emissions react with water molecules in the atmosphere to form acids. Acid rain has been shown to have adverse impacts on forests, freshwaters and soils, killing insect and aquatic life-forms as well as causing damage to buildings and having impacts on human health. Though it was discovered in 1852, it was not until the late 1960s that scientists began widely observing and studying the phenomenon. Acid rain has killed forests and created dead lakes.
The principal cause of acid rain is sulfur and nitrogen compounds from human sources, such as electricity generation, factories, and motor vehicles. Coal-fired power plants are among of the most damaging. The gases can be carried hundreds of miles from their source, causing widespread ecological damage. Places with significant impact by acid rain around the globe include most of Eastern Europe from Poland northward into Scandinavia, the eastern third of the United States, and South Western Canada. Other affected areas include the South Eastern coast of China and Taiwan. Power producers and
automobile makers are creating costly technologies to remove the harmful chemicals from emissions. A sure-fire way to reduce acid rain, however, is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, using less electricity, using clean and renewable energy sources, and driving less.