Acid rain is caused by burning coal or oil. When either fuel is burned, it releases poisonous gases which are carried up into the atmosphere and sometimes transported long distances. Over 3000 research projects have been carried out to look into acid rain, and a decision to tackle the problem has been taken in most of the Western European countries.

Measures have been taken in Scandinavia and in Central Europe to stop the pollution before it is dumped on the environment: and a diplomatic campaign has been launched to convince the other countries that the problem has to be considered as a major  ecological threat.

“Five years ago this issue was not being treated seriously,” says one leading environmental group, “but now that damage has been reported in large areas of forest and lakeland, our politicians are being forced to take action. This problem must be solved quickly: if governments do  nothing, they will be faced in two or three years’ time with the accusation that they have allowed our forests to die.”

A major international initiative to combat acid rain is expected in the near future.

According to some scientists, one of the most serious problems for the environment is acid rain. Acid rain is caused mainly by power plants that burn coal to produce electricity. The smoke from these power plants contains acidic substances which later fall back to earth in rain or snow.


Acid Rain
Acid Rain Formation

As a result, the amount of acid in lakes and rivers increases, causing the fish to die. Already many lakes in Canada, the northeastern U.S., and Norway are contaminated by pollution from power plants. Scientists are also warning that acid rain can damage plants and trees and lead to the contamination of drinking water. It is, therefore, a danger to human health.

Many governments do not want to pass laws that will reduce the pollution which causes acid rain. They say that the causes of acid rain are still not completely clear. However, it is clear to the majority of environmentalists that economics is the real reason why governments do not take immmediate action. In most industrial countries, the majority of power plants use coal. It will be extremely expensive to develop the special equipment that is needed to reduce the pollution from these power plants.


The causes of acid rain
Acid Rain’s Reasons

Acid rain is rain, snow, or fog that contains high amounts of sulphuric or nitric acid. To some extent, acidic rain occurs naturally and can have a beneficial effect – for instance, serving as fertilizer. But, when the acidity of the precipitation is abnormally high over a  prolonged period, it can overwhelm the ability of water and woods (and buildings, statues, car finishes, fish, game, and humans) to accommodate it.

When this happens, lakes and trees may die, game species may weaken, and human health may be endangered. Those who have studied the current crisis believe it to be the result of high  acid levels caused primarily by sulphur dioxide emissions from coal-fired utility plants and nitrogen oxide emissions from automobiles. These pollutants are either transformed to acid in the air or deposited on the ground in dry form, combining with ground water to form sulphuric or nitric acid.


Mark the best choice.
1. Line 12, These pollutants’ refers to .

a) coal-fired utility plants and automobiles

b) emissions from various plants

c) sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide

d) high levels of acid

2. Acid rain is particularly dangerous when it .

a) falls heavily for a long time c) is deposited in dry form

b) combines with ground water d) causes lakes and trees to die


Acid rain happens
How does acid rain occur?
Acid Rain - Oxidation
Oxidation – Acid Rain
Acid rain
Ash falls to ground


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