Acid Rain: Report number 14 by Watt Committee on Energy Publications

By Watt Committee on Energy Publications

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Acid Rain: Report number 14

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During the twentieth century extensive monitoring systems have been established. By the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the systematic operation of deposit gauges had begun at a number of sites, notably in Manchester and Sheffield. Smoke abatement led to a 50% reduction of total deposited matter in some of these gauges by 1927, but pollution continued to be a problem. 1). In the early 1950s, increasing effort was applied to the measurement of sulphur dioxide, and the Warren Spring Laboratory of the Department of Industry became responsible for co-ordinating the national monitoring of air pollution.

Although there may be an acid rain or acid fog component involved, it is considered that the primary factor is ozone damage to leafcell membranes, the ozone being produced from gaseous NOx by sunlight in the presence of gaseous hydrocarbons. As such, this damage can be considered to be a direct effect of gaseous pollutants rather than a response to acid rain. 8 shows a scheme to explain the phenomena and mechanisms of forest decline. 7). Cation exchange in the leaf-litter layer beneath a hardwood forest can continue the reduction in acidity, although a more common observation is an increase in acidity at this stage.

The residence time of NOx, and in particular HCI, in the atmosphere is fairly short, so SO2 is the dominant gas away from the immediate vicinity of emissions. Close to emission sources, dry deposition exceeds wet deposition; but, on moving away from the source, total acid deposition decreases and there is a progressive shift towards a predominance of wet deposition. 6 shows the range of pH values encountered today. e. the microbial conversion of ) and root and microbial respiration. However, pollution-derived acidity comprises strong acids, usually sulphuric or nitric acids, whereas much of the naturally-generated acidity either represents the direct transfer of hydrogen ions from roots to exchange sites, without the involvement of an anion, or is present as weak carbonic and organic acids.

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