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What are the Best Acid Rain Solutions?

Combatting acid rain requires a multifaceted approach, including reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides through cleaner energy sources and stringent regulations. Afforestation and emissions trading can also play pivotal roles. Each strategy offers hope for a healthier planet. How might these solutions impact our environment and economy? Join the conversation and consider the possibilities for a brighter future.
Ken Black
Ken Black

Acid rain solutions focus on both prevention, and on helping to deal with the environmental ramifications once the acid rain does take place. So little can be done after the fact to improve the environment that the best acid rain solutions often focus on making sure it never happens in the first place. To do this, it is first necessary to identify the causes of acid rain together with processes that can be changed to aid in prevention.

Acid rain is caused by sulfur emissions, which are put into the air through the burning of coal, often used for energy. Other sources of sulfur in the atmosphere include volcanoes and decomposing vegetation. Despite the fact these natural sources do exist, it is generally agreed that anthropogenic causes are the main sources of acid rain. This may make acid rain solutions easier to identify simply because if humans have caused it, then logically they should have the ability to change it.

Air pollution causes acid rain.
Air pollution causes acid rain.

The best acid rain solutions focus on power plants and coal used in the production of energy. Technologies exist that can remove sulfur from the emissions coming out of coal plant. Low-sulfur varieties of coal can also be used to reduce sulfur emissions. Often, a combination of these acid rain solutions provides the best way to minimize the problem.

The installation of scrubbers can help prevent as much as 95 percent of sulfur emitted by a carbon-fired electric power plant. The scrubbers work by spraying water with lime through the gas emission produced from burning the coal. The lime interacts with the sulfur dioxide, creating a sludge that is then captured and stored. The problem with this method is that retrofitting existing power plants with the technology is usually very expensive. It is cheaper if the technology is installed as the power plant is being built, and the inclusion of the technology is now required in many countries when new power plants are erected.

Some forms of coal naturally have lower sulfur than other forms. In the United States, coal higher in sulfur often comes from the eastern portion of the country, whereas low-sulfur coal is found mainly in the West, in states such as Wyoming and Montana. This solution has the ability to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 50 percent or more, but is not without is disadvantages. The main disadvantage mentioned is the higher transportation costs of the coal to plants in the eastern portion of the country, and the loss of jobs resulting from the reduced demand for coal from the eastern United States.

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Discussion Comments


@Sara84- I disagree. There are solutions to acid rain. For one thing we can use cleaner burning coal. Even though some of the contamination is natural (from vegetation, volcanoes, etc.) something can still be done. Just because we cannot control all of it does not mean we should simply ignore it.


They have been talking about pollution of air by acid rain since the 1970s. I really do not think we can do anything about it now. The damage is already done. I think it is time for our government to concentrate on other problems that are more urgent.

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    • Air pollution causes acid rain.
      By: trancedrumer
      Air pollution causes acid rain.