Acid Rain occurs when fossil fuels are burned, releasing sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide into the air. These toxins can be released from ore smelters, coal and oil-fired burners, even through the exhaust emitted by motor vehicles. When these gases combine with water in the atmosphere, nitric and sulphuric acids form, and are carried by winds returning to earth as fog, sleet, snow or rain. This is especially dangerous in areas that receive large amounts of rain throughout the year.
Acid rain is devastating to fish and aquatic habitats as it upsets the delicate PH balance in the water, damaging and even destroying complete watersheds essential for supporting the livelihood of many birds and animals. Nova Scotia has seen a 75 % decrease in Atlantic salmon runs to the Atlantic coast due to damaged habitat. As many as 14 rivers have had their salmon runs completely destroyed, and a decline as drastic as 90 % of the salmon population has been experienced in 20 other rivers.
Acid rain is also known to leech heavy metals from soil and rock, allowing plants and animals to absorb them. Metals such as aluminium suffocates aquatic life in rivers and ponds, whereas leached heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury are stored in the body of an organism, building up to toxicity, or eventually passed up the food chain and consumed by humans.
Acid rain is debilitating to the health of all living things and can corrode paints, stone, metals, concrete, damaging man-made structures rendering them unsafe and seriously de-valued.
Awareness makes all the difference in preventing acid rain from destroying our natural water resources, our health, and our homes. For more information on acid rain and how you can help, visit: