Acid rain is one of the most dangerous and widespread forms of pollution. Sometimes called "the unseen plague," acid rain can go undetected in an area for years. Technically, acid rain is rain that has a larger amount of acid in it than what is normal. The acidity of rain in parts of Europe and North America has dramatically increased over the past few decades. It is now common in many places for rain to be ten to seventy times more acidic than unpolluted rain. Many living and non-living systems become harmed and damaged, because of acid rain. This article gives an informational, in-depth look at acid rain--its causes and effects; and solutions to the acid rain problem.
Smoke and gases, given off by factories, cars, and other polluters that run on fossil fuels, cause acid rain. When these fuels are burned to produce energy, the sulfur that is present in the fuel combines with oxygen and becomes sulfur dioxide; some of the nitrogen in the air becomes nitrogen oxide. These pollutants go into the atmosphere, and become acid. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are produced especially when coal is burnt for fuel. Burning coal produces electricity, the more electricity people use, and the more coal is burnt. Of course, nowadays people probably could not live without electricity, so coal will continue to be burnt; but electricity and energy are constantly being overused. Think of it this way: every time we turn on a light switch or the television set without really needing to, we are indirectly contributing to the acid rain problem. Automobiles produce nitrogen oxides (which cause acid rain), so every time we do not carpool when we can, we are helping to cause acid rain.