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What is Acid Rain A form of air pollution currently a subject of controversy because of widespread environmental damage it has been blamed It forms when oxides of sulfur and nitrogen combine with atmospheric moisture to make sulfuric and nitric acids which then can be carried long distances from their source before they are released by rain The pollution may also take the form of snow or fog or be precipitated in dry forms Effects One large area that has been studied extensively is northern Europe where acid rain has eroded structures injured crops and forests and threatened or ended life in freshwater lakes In 1984 for example environmental reports said that almost half of the trees in Germanys Black Forest had been damaged by acid rain The northeastern United States and eastern Canada have also been affected by this form of pollution The problem of acid rain originated with the Industrial Revolution and it has been growing ever since The severity of its effects has long been recognized in local settings as exemplified by the spells of acid smog in heavily industrialized areas The widespread destructiveness of acid rain however has become evident only in recent decades Government action Industrial emissions have been blamed as the major cause of acid rain Because the chemical reactions involved in the production of acid rain in the atmosphere are complex and as yet little understood industries have tended to challenge such assessments and to stress the need for further studies and because of the cost of pollution reduction governments have tended to support this attitude Studies released by the US government in the early 1980s however strongly involved industries as the main source of acid rain in the eastern US and Canada In 1988 as part of the United Nations-sponsored Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Agreement the United States along with 24 other nations ratified a protocol freezing the rate of nitrogen oxides
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