Friday, December 9, 2011

What is Acid reflux? How to avoid it?

What is Acid reflux?

As we know there are plenty of stomach problems, some are very severe and some can be easily treated at home. Acid reflux is one of the severe ones and we can all it as a product of acidity in the stomach.

So what exactly is acid reflux? It is a condition where the acids in the stomach flow back to esophagus causing a feeling of burning. The patient is in a very uncomfortable situation as this type of acidity hurts very badly. Esophagus is the food pipe; it’s a channel of connecting mouth to the stomach. Our stomach secretes acids in order to digest food. When these acids are secreted more than what is required, acidity occurs. Some acids move back to the esophagus. The inner part of esophagus is not very well protected as the stomach. So the acids hurt the inner lining of the food pipe causing severe pain. It is a very bad form of acidity and amongst the worst stomach problems.

Acid reflux can be avoided if proper care is taken. Like most of the stomach problems, acid reflux can also be treated by your own self at home if it is at initial stage. But too many experiments are always dangerous as acidity cannot be taken lightly. This is a very bad news for the fat people that acid reflux mostly targets overweight people at the age close to 40 years. Many stomach problems are caused due to bad eating habits. It doesn’t mean eating more but it occurs by not having a proper diet plan.

A well balanced diet plan can help you to avoid acidity, acid reflux and many of the stomach problems. What you can do is instead of having a huge meal at one time, you can break it out into smaller ones after regular intervals. This will help to digest food properly and utilize the energy for work. Also don’t go for sleep just after you had a meal. Improper digestion is the root cause of stomach problems including acidity and acid reflux.

Acid reflux can also be avoided if you drink plenty of water and do regular exercise. An active routine keeps the body organs busy and make them work in the right direction. Research has proven that 6 to 8 hours of daily sleep also keeps the threat of acid reflux and acidity away from you along with several other stomach problems.

What causes acid reflux?

Acid reflux commonly occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not work properly, and allows acid to seep upwards from the stomach to the esophagus. Although we know that a faulty LES is a common cause, we are not sure why it becomes faulty. One of many reasons could be that pressure in the stomach rises higher than the LES can withstand.

Here are some common causes of acid reflux:

* Pregnancy - more commonly found during the third trimester of a pregnancy. As the growing baby presses on the stomach, contents may back up into the esophagus. Doctors say antacids will not relieve acid reflux caused by pregnancy. Patients find that if they eat smaller meals but eat more meals per day, it helps. In the vast majority of cases the acid reflux will disappear soon after the baby is born.

* Large meals and eating habits - people who have large meals will usually find that their acid reflux will improve if they cut down portion sizes. Patients who kept a food diary, noting down everything they ate and linking certain foods to incidences of acid reflux, have experienced a reduction in acid reflux.

* Bending forward - this movement will not usually cause acid reflux unless there is another underlying trigger or problem.

* Hiatus hernia (hiatal hernia) - a condition where the upper part of the stomach protrudes into the chest through a small opening in the diaphragm. Hiatal hernias are commonly caused by severe coughing, vomiting, straining, sudden physical exertion, pregnancy, and obesity.

* Peptic ulcers and insufficient digestive enzymes - peptic ulcers and not enough digestive enzymes in the stomach may slow down the digestive process, causing an accumulation of gastric acids that back up into the esophagus.

* Asthma - experts still argue about which came first, the asthma or the acid reflux - did the asthma cause the acid reflux or did the acid reflux cause the asthma? Nobody has a definite answer to the relationship between asthma and acid reflux. Some say that the coughing and sneezing brought on by asthmatic attacks can cause changes in the chest which trigger acid reflux. Others blame asthma medications - they are taken to dilate the airways, but might also relax the esophageal sphincter.

Most asthma sufferers say that their asthma is worsened by acid reflux because the acid that seeps into the esophagus from the stomach stimulates the nerves along the neck into the chest, causing bronchial constriction and breathing problems.

* Smoking - research has shown that the saliva of smokers contain lower levels of bicarbonates, which neutralize acids. Cigarette smoking also reduces the production of saliva. Smoking also stimulates the production of stomach acid, weakens the esophageal sphincter, promotes the movement of bile salts from the intestine to the stomach (making the acids more harmful), and slows down digestion (making stomach pressure last longer because it takes more time to empty).

* Alcohol - patients have commented that quitting alcohol, or cutting down consumption significantly improved their symptoms.

What is the treatment for acid reflux?

The vast majority of people with acid reflux will get better if they make some changes to their diet. Some foods are safe for heartburn sufferers, while others are major triggers of it.

It would be easy to say that there is a reflux diet. Unfortunately, we all react differently to different foods.

Below is a list of foods/drinks that commonly cause irritation and/or heartburn:

* Alcohol
* Black pepper
* Chili and chili powder
* Citrus fruit, pineapple
* Coffee
* Garlic
* Spicy food
* Tea
* Tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice, ketchup
* Vinegar

Some patients with acid reflux say these gassy foods cause discomfort:

* Beans
* Broccoli
* Brussel Sprouts
* Cabbage
* Cauliflower
* Kale
* Fizzy drinks (sodas)


* Acid suppressant - these have been shown to be effective, such as histamine2-receptor antagonists (blockers). Histamines are good at reducing inflammation. An inflamed stomach produces more acid - blocking this extra production of acid helps prevent the acids from building up and seeping upwards.

* Propton pump inhibitors - these reduce the production of acid in the stomach. They act on cells in the stomach wall and produce stomach acids.

* Prokinetic agents - these promote the emptying of the stomach, stopping it from becoming overfull.

* Antiacids - commonly used to treat mild acid-related symptoms, such as heartburn or indigestion. They neutralize the acids in the stomach. These are not recommended for frequent heartburn for patients with GERD.

What Is Acid Reflux? What Causes Acid Reflux?

The word "reflux" comes from the Medieval Latin word refluxus which comes from the Latin word refluere, meaning "to flow back, to recede". If you suffer from acid reflux the acids from your stomach "flow back" into your esophagus, causing discomfort and pain - this discomfort is known as heartburn.

What is the esophagus?
In simple terms, the esophagus is the tube between the stomach and the pharynx, which is at the back of your throat. According to Medilexicon's Medical Dictionary, "the esophagus is the portion of the alimentary canal between the pharynx and stomach. It is about 25-cm long and consists of three parts: the cervical part, from the cricoid cartilage to the thoracic inlet; the thoracic part, from the thoracic inlet to the diaphragm; and the abdominal part, below the diaphragm to the cardiac opening of the stomach."

The esophageal sphincter

The esophageal sphincter lies at the junction where the stomach and the esophagus join. Your stomach produces strong acids and enzymes (gastric juices) which are used in food digestion. The inner lining of your stomach has several mechanisms to protect itself from the effect of the gastric juices on itself, but the lining of the esophagus does not. There is a valve that stops the gastric juices from going up the esophagus - it is called the lower esophageal sphincter.

When the lower esophageal sphincter becomes weakened gastric juices can seep upwards into the esophagus.

Most of us have acid reflux problems now and again. In majority of cases this is harmless. If the problem becomes persistent and goes untreated, the heartburn can develop into GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). In chronic and severe cases the esophagus can become scarred - the patient may have difficulty swallowing, and the risk of developing cancer of the esophagus increases significantly.

What is the difference between acid reflux and heartburn?
Acid reflux is the action, while heartburn is the sensation. The pain is heartburn, while the movement of acid into the esophagus from the stomach is acid reflux.
What are the symptoms of acid reflux?

* Asthma - gastric juices seep upwards into the throat, mouth and air passages of the lungs
* Chest pain - part of the heartburn sensation
* Dental erosion
* Dysphagia - difficulty swallowing
* Heartburn - a burning feeling rising from the stomach or lower chest towards the neck
* Hoarseness
* Regurgitation - bringing food back up into the mouth .

Acid Reflux Disease Symptoms: Knowing your Body

Acid reflux disease is a condition in which the stomach acids abnormally reflux into the esophagus. This phenomenon is irregularly experienced by most people, most especially after eating.

Our body uses gastric and stomach acids to break down the food that we eat. Normally, after the digestion in the stomach, the food is delivered by the digestive muscles to the intestines for extra digestion. But in patients who have acid reflux disease, the acidic stomach contents are moved back to the esophagus, which then causes inflammation. Cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, pregnancy, and fatty foods are some factors which worsens acid reflux conditions.

Our present knowledge about acid reflux based on medical researches tells us that this disease is common in men as it is in women. There is no sexual preference. Moreover, the prevalence of acid reflux is more frequent in people of 40 years of age or more.

Symptoms of acid reflux may be typical or atypical. But based on the diagnosis of acid reflux patients, only 70% of those who have this disease manifest typical symptoms.

Typical or esophageal symptoms concern indicators which are related with the esophagus. Such symptoms include the following:

Heartburn. This is a condition in which the patient feels a painful burning feeling in the esophagus. The pain often develops in the chest and may swell to the neck or throat. This is most probable to occur in relation with these activities: after a heavy meal, lifting, bending over, and lying down. Based on one study, about 75% of acid reflux patients experience this symptom at night. These nigh-time patients also tend to experience more harsh pain than those whose symptom occurs at other times.

Dyspepsia. Researches show that about half of acid reflux patients have dyspepsia. This is a syndrome which consists of pain and distress in the upper abdomen, nausea after a meal, and stomach fullness. It is not a rule however, that those who have dyspepsia have acid reflux.

Regurgitation. This is when the gastric contents back up into the pharynx and sometimes as far as the mouth. In cases where the acids have spilled into the tracheobronchial tree, respiratory complications can be stimulated.

There are many instances, though, that acid reflux patients do not manifest symptoms such as regurgitation and heartburn. Instead, they experience atypical or extraesophageal symptoms which include the following:

Throat Symptoms. Although it does not commonly happen, acid reflux patients suffer from symptoms that occur in the throat. Hoarseness, the feeling of having a lump in the throat, dry cough are undergone by those who have acid laryngitis, a throat symptom. Patients can also have difficulty in swallowing, a condition known as dysphagia. In critical cases, the food may get trapped in the throat or even choke, which can result to a severe chest pain. Other throat symptoms are chronic sore throat and persistent hiccups.

Vomiting and Nausea. When a patient suffers from nausea which persists for weeks, he may have acid reflux. There are few instances where vomiting can occur as often as once a day.

Respiratory Symptoms. Coughing and wheezing are counted as respiratory symptoms. These result from the overrunning of the stomach acids into the tracheobronchial tree creating bronchoconstriction.

Acid reflux disease can last for several months if not given proper medical attention. Drug treatment may only be required for a short time. But when the symptoms tend to repetitively occur, the drug treatment may have to be reapplied.

Symptoms And Natural Cure For Acid Reflux

How would a person know if he or she has acid reflux? How does acid reflux feel like? It is a burning sensation that affects the upper abdomen after a heavy meal when a person is already relaxing. Later, the pain goes up to the breastbone and to the chest. From this discomfort, it can lead to the inflammation of the esophagus, indigestion, hoarseness and many other symptoms.

Acid reflux disease is the condition that gives uneasiness to many adults including infants by causing sudden pains and burning in the chest. Its most common symptom is called heartburn. The condition is characterized by refluxing or backing up of the stomach acid into the esophagus. While heartburn can normally take place sometimes, it cannot be always rated as acid reflux disease. But if heartburn occurs twice to thrice a week, it is more probably a symptom of acid reflux.

In many cases, the symptoms of acid reflux disease occur after a fatty meal, when drinking liquor or beverages which contains caffeine, when lying down right after meal and worse when smoking. And because of these unpleasant sensations brought about by acid reflux, it can severely affect your health and your lifestyle. A number of people who suffered from this disease also suffered in the quality of lifestyle. Who would be enjoying life if there were a constant reminder of pain? The symptoms are so obvious that you do not need a doctor to diagnose it.

For this particular disease, there could be a variety of treatments that you can choose from. Symptoms which occur less than five times in a month can easily be treated by over the counter medicines. The doctor can give you pieces of advice on the kind of medicine appropriate for you. However, if your body does not work well with the prescribed medicines, it would be best to shift to a new one or seek for another option. Medicines formulated from natural herbs have less or no side effects.

For cases of acute acid reflux, surgical treatment may already be recommended to you. The standard treatment that has been preferred for a long time is called nissen fundoplication. In this surgical procedure, the stomach is wrapped to reinforce the sphincter and thereby preventing the stomach acid from refluxing.

In any manner, the effective way of finding relief from acid reflux symptoms is the natural way. Some simple steps that can work together with your medications will effectively cast away your suffering from this disease. A modified lifestyle will help you make things better. Things to be changed include your dietary habits, refraining from smoking and minimizing the alcohol intake. Salty foods have been found out to aggravate acid reflux disease as much as the fatty foods. Taking extra table salts in your meal can expose you to graver risks.

Obesity doesn’t only harm the heart but can worsen acid reflux disease as well. The excess fat in the abdomen amplifies the pressure in it causing the stomach acid to rise up to the gullet. So diet must be intensively watched out so as to avoid the symptoms and the discomfort they caused.

Natural cure of this disease also includes exercise. Proper stretching can help reduce the pressure on your stomach and subsequently helping you fight the symptoms of acid reflux disease.

If you can follow the preventive measures against acid reflux disease, then you are on your way to beating acid reflux without turning to medications.

Using Acid Reflux Medicine To Get Rid Of The Annoying Heartburns

Alcohol lovers would often love to match their drink with spicy dishes and greasy and fatty foods. The perfect combination makes the drinking perfect to the palate. Unfortunately though, this is bad for the esophagus and the stomach. The alcohol, the spicy dishes and the greasy and fatty foods causes acid reflux or also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Other causes of acid reflux are pregnancy, genetic influences, presence of infection in the gastrointestinal tract, and the Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).

The Gastrointestinal System of the body is composed of the following: the oral cavity, the esophagus, the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and the anus. The main function of the Gastrointestinal System is to digest food particles, absorb digestive juices and eliminate undigested materials which are of course the feces.

The acid reflux affects the stomach and the esophagus. This occurs when the liquid from the stomach which contains pepsin, an irritating substance produced by the chief cells goes up to the esophagus passing through the cardiac sphincter. The cardiac sphincter is the opening to the stomach from the esophagus. Its function is to prevent reflux of the substances in the stomach because these substances cause esophageal irritation and ulcer. If the cardiac sphincter fails to close after receiving food from the esophagus, acid reflux occurs.

Acid reflux is a chronic condition. Once a person suffers from it, it becomes a life-long ordeal. Injury in the esophagus also is a chronic condition. Even if the esophagus has healed with treatment and it is being stopped, the injury will return in most patients within a few months. Once treatment for said illness is begun, it usually needs to be continued indefinitely.

Normally, liquid reflux in the stomach occurs to a healthy individual. However, people with the acid reflux or GERD, has more acid in the liquid. This may be caused by the genetic influences, specifically, an increased number of parietal cells which produce pepsin in the stomach.
The body has mechanisms to protect itself from the harmful effects of reflux and acid. Most reflux happens during the day when individuals are upright. In said position, the refluxed liquid is more likely to flow back down into the stomach due to gravity. Moreover, while individuals are awake, they continually swallow, regardless if there is reflux or not. Each time individuals swallow the reflux liquid slide back into the stomach. The last body defense to reflux is the salivary glands in the mouth. These glands produce saliva, which contains bicarbonate. Every time an individual swallows, the bicarbonate-containing saliva slides down the esophagus. The bicarbonate neutralizes the small amount of acid that remains in the esophagus.

Basically, acid reflux medicines inhibit the production or release of pepsin produced by the chief cells and hydrochloric acid produced by the parietal cells in the stomach. Other medicines may not totally inhibit the production but they neutralize the acid.

The acid reflux medicines are the Histamine Blockers or the H2 receptor antagonists. Histamine stimulates a pump in the stomach that releases hydrochloric acid. The H2 receptor antagonists prevent the histamine from stimulating this pump. They block the production of the hydrochloric acid thereby reducing secretion and concentration into the stomach.

One of the acid reflux medicines is the Cimetidine which was introduced in 1975. It has a short half-life and short duration of action. The three most popular H2 blockers are Ranitidine, Famotidine and Nizatidine. They are more potent than Cimetidine because in addition to blocking gastric acid secretions, they also promote healing of the ulcer by eliminating its cause. They also have longer duration of action.

As the cliché goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, you can avoid having an acid reflux or GERD by avoiding too much smoking and alcohol, and by eating less of spicy and greasy food. When taking NSAIDs, be sure you take it after meals. Lastly, avoid stress because it stimulates the release of the deadly acid.

Avoid Food And beverages That Cause Acid reflux

Many people get hungry because they lack food. Children become malnourished if they are not given the right amount of food which contains the needed vitamins and minerals which in turn make the body strong and healthy.

The fact is, not all foods are healthy. The most popular unhealthy food is ‘junk foods’. Just as the word suggests, junk, which means it is like garbage. But many people are still patronizing these kinds of food.

People diagnosed with certain diseases often are given a list of foods to avoid. And this is true with the case of a person having acid reflux. Acid reflux or the GERD is a condition wherein stomach acids go back to the esophagus because of the improper functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter. If this condition is not treated, it will only get worse which can cause serious complications.

You can effectively tell if you have acid reflux if you experience symptoms like sour taste, burning sensation in the chest or upper abdomen and your throat’s back, excessive belching, breathing difficulties, tightness of throat, difficulty in swallowing food, and bad breath.

If you frequently experience these symptoms, then you probably have acid reflux. Visit your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis, so that you will know the severity of your condition.

There are certain beverages and foods which cause acid reflux, and this includes the following:

** chocolate
** coffee
** spearmint and peppermint
** alcoholic drinks
** fruit juices
** fatty foods and fried foods
** onions
** citrus fruits
** spicy foods
** products which are tomato-based
** caffeinated drinks

A change in your diet is the most effective way to deal with acid reflux. Although at first you may feel deprived of these foods, think of what will happen if you continue to eat or drink these beverages and foods.

Start your change in diet by keeping a record of your food intake. In this manner, you can tell which of the foods or beverages causes your acid reflux. So every time you experience that burning sensation, take note of what you’ve actually eaten. Once you have the list accomplished, put it somewhere where you can easily see it, like the refrigerator.

A lifestyle change may seem rather difficult. Your doctor can greatly help you in your transition. The very first thing that you should do is to set a goal, like for instance eating small meals, while avoiding those above-mentioned foods. Slowly quit smoking and drinking. Of course, you can’t expect an abrupt change.

Every time you feel any of the symptoms, you will be instantly reminded that you’re on the wrong path. Self-discipline is very much important to attain a successful lifestyle change.

While many people are taking antacids, others are finding it better to stick with the natural way. On the long run, antacids are not that good for your body, even to your stomach. It would be better to start changing your lifestyle, the sooner the better.

Besides, a healthy lifestyle doesn’t only prevent acid reflux but other diseases as well. You will gain more benefit in changing your life entirely, especially regarding food eating habits. Eat the right kinds of food at the right amount, and you’ll stay healthy. Prevent acid reflux, change…

The Right and Effective Home Remedies for Acid Reflux

Are you fond of eating junk food, protein-rich food and processed foods? If you do, well, this is bad news for you. You are certainly a candidate for an acid reflux problem in your stomach and esophagus.

Acid reflux is a condition that is a prelude to ulcer. It is caused by a disturbance in the acid-alkaline condition in the stomach.

Eating specific acid foods that are hard to digest induces stomach spasms or twitching which causes the cardiac sphincter, opening between the esophagus and stomach to open for gases to form that should not.

This is an indigestion problem that has gotten out of hand and created acid wastes to flow up to your esophagus causing an irritation. This irritation, if not controlled can result to ulcers and other infections. The acid reflux diet that you have been eating should now be changed.

Once you have the symptoms of acid reflux, you need not resort to medications at once to cure the problem. You can start with home remedies that are surely less expensive.

You may start with changing your diet. You have to say goodbye to the following food and beverages: tea, coffee, radishes, garlic, onion, spices (pepper), oils, alcohol, sugar, soft drinks, diet soft drinks, asparagus (Brussels sprouts), high protein foods, pasta noodles, corn starch, eggs, plums, prunes, cranberries, and all processed foods including junk foods. Now, you may want to cry. All your comfort foods are gone.

If you think, you cannot abruptly eliminate them in your diet; start with taking just small amounts. Then start substituting them with the following: fruits, citric fruits in small amounts though due to their acidic content, all kinds of vegetables and almonds.
If you feel that you are not feeling the acid reflux symptoms anymore, you may go back to your previous diet in moderation though to prevent recurrence of the acid reflux.

Aside from proper diet, there are practical home remedies to avoid the acid reflux symptom. They are:

* Avoid smoking before or during meals.
* Eat in an upright sitting position.
* Do not lie on the bed immediately after eating.
* Take small walks after eating. It stimulates the digestive system.
* Avoid exercise after a large meal.
* Avoid wearing tight clothes.
* Do not drink alcohol while eating.
* Chew food slowly and thoroughly.

One of the home remedies for treating acid reflux is the ginger alternative. Ingesting ginger with a meal helps to reduce an upset stomach. The ginger is grounded and added to foods and taken in tea or capsule form. Most herbalists recommend consuming 500mg. of ginger with a full glass of water after meals.

We are often told by our physicians to drink more water, if possible at least 8 glasses each day. The water helps eliminate body toxins and allow the body to expel acid naturally.

Green tea has been used for centuries in Japan and other oriental countries as an after dinner drink. Green teas assist the body in the digestion process, and help soothe the stomach’s sensitive tissue.

Herbal teas containing peppermint, chamomile, ginger, licorice root and catnip even in just small traces help the stomach lining repair itself. Often, one cup of tea following dinner is enough to reduce future acid reflux symptoms.

Numerous Remedies for Acid Reflux

No doubt you've heard of numerous natural remedies for heartburn as well as acid reflux disease problems. Natural remedies are sought after now because people are living increasingly more stressful and demanding lives.

As an alternative to taking those strong and dangerous medications a physician may prescribe to help remedy acid reflux, one is much better off making a more sensible choice.

People are fed up with being prescribed prescription drugs to fix their problem and the prescriptions not working, so more are choosing a holistic alternative treatment.

Finding a natural cure for acid reflux disease is what numerous victims are searching for. All it requires is time as well as patience and you will be as you had been before you began having the problem.

If you hae acid reflux disease or simply are afflicted by regular heartburn, there are lots of homeopathic and cure options which say have been shown to treat, remedy and get rid of signs and symptoms.

Acid Reflux Is A Medical Problem

Acid reflux disease has become a huge medical problem in recent times.

Acid reflux may produce a lot of discomfort for the individual when it is not dealt with.

Heartburn or acid reflux not only has an effect on the digestive system; it could very well create harmful effects on different parts of the human body unless remedied effectively.

When you consider the increase of the intensity during the passing of time, you realize the possibality of that happening.

The effective treatment becomes mandatory, if an individual has persistent problems. This is a dilemma a significant number of individuals have.

Despite the fact that acid reflux disease is no considered serious usually, nonetheless it is still something which should not be ignored.

Here you will find the best and only totally natural holistic method you can use to avoid and get rid of acid reflux permanently.

Rather than taking costly as well as harmful drugs, this is a safe, simple and easy, all natural method to remedy acid reflux disease.

Acid Rain Program

The Acid Rain Program is a market-based initiative taken by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to reduce overall atmospheric levels of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which cause acid rain. The program is an implementation of emissions trading that primarily targets coal-burning power plants, allowing them to buy and sell emission permits (called "allowances") according to individual needs and costs. Allowance trading essentially ended in 2010 when EPA issued the Transport Rule. In 2011, the trading program that existed since 1995 was replaced by four separate trading programs under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR).


Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act established the allowance market system known today as the Acid Rain Program. Initially targeting only sulfur dioxide, Title IV set a decreasing cap on total SO2 emissions for each of the following several years, aiming to reduce overall emissions to 50% of 1980 levels. The program did not begin immediately, but was implemented in two stages: Phase I (starting January 1, 1995) and Phase II (starting January 1, 2000).

The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 set as its primary goal the reduction of annual SO2 emissions by 10 million tons below 1980 levels of about 18.9 million tons. To achieve these reductions by 2000, when a nationwide sulfur dioxide emissions cap of 8.95 million tons per year began, the law required a two phase tightening of operating restrictions placed on fossil fuel fired (e.g., coal, oil, natural gas) power plants. The operation and pricing of a market for emissions allowances would not be viable in the absence of an effective regulatory cap on the total number of allowances available.

Scope of Phase I requirements

In Phase I, half the total reductions were required by January 1, 1995, largely by requiring 110 electric power generating plants (261 units in 21 states) to cut sulfur dioxide emission rates to 2.5 lbs/million British thermal units (mmBtu). Each of these generating units was identified by name and location, and a quantity of emissions allowances were specified in the statute in tons of allowable SO2 emissions per year.

For comparison, new generating units built since 1978 were required to limit sulfur dioxide to a "lowest achievable emissions rate" of about 0.6 lbs/mmBtu. Coal with 1.25% sulfur and 10,000 Btu/lb produces sulfur dioxide emissions of 2.5 lbs/mmBtu, with lower emissions produced by either lower sulfur content or higher Btu content.

As an incentive for reducing emissions, for each ton of sulfur dioxide reduced below the applicable emissions limit, owners of a generating unit received an emissions allowance they could use at another unit, keep for future use, or sell. This legitimized a market for sulfur dioxide emissions allowances, administered by the Chicago Board of Trade. Units that installed flue gas desulfurization equipment (e.g., scrubbers) or other "qualifying Phase I technology" which reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 90%, qualified for a two-year extension of the 1995 deadline, provided they owned allowances to cover their total actual emissions for each year of the extension period.

Scope of Phase II requirements

In Phase II, all fossil-fired units over 75 MWe were required to limit emissions of sulfur dioxide to 1.2 lbs/mmBtu by January 1, 2000. Thereafter, they were required to obtain an emissions allowance for each ton of sulfur dioxide emitted, subject to a mandatory fine of $2,000.00 for each ton emitted in excess of allowances held. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) distributes allowances equivalent to 8.95 million tons each year (the emissions cap), based on calculations of historical Btu usage for each unit, and may allocate various small "bonus reserves" of allowances.

Nitrogen oxide reduction

The 1990 Amendments also required reductions in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions at Phase I units. The key factors in NOx formation are flame temperature and oxygen levels present for combustion. Installation of low-NOx burner retrofits are the most common means of compliance, generally reducing emissions from uncontrolled levels by up to 50%. Many utilities complied with requirements by installing stack-gas scrubbers and low-NOx burners at the same time. Low-NOx burner technology was readily available, and considerably less expensive than installation of scrubbers, so control of NOx was considered less demanding by most electric utilities.

Compliance strategies

The market based SO2 allowance trading component of the Acid Rain Program was intended to allow utilities to adopt the most cost effective strategy to reduce SO2 emissions. Every Acid Rain Program operating permit outlines specific requirements and compliance options chosen by each source. Affected utilities also were required to install systems that continuously monitor emissions of SO2, NOx, and other related pollutants in order to track progress, ensure compliance, and provide credibility to the trading component of the program. Monitoring data is transmitted to EPA daily via telecommunications systems.

Strategies for compliance with air quality controls have been major components of electric utility planning and operations since the mid-1970s, affecting choice of fuels, technologies and locations for construction of new generating capacity. Utility strategies for compliance with new sulfur dioxide standards included a mix of options with varying financial costs:

* several existing and new stack-gas scrubbing and clean coal technologies;
* switching to all, or blending high-sulfur coal with, low-sulfur coal;
* switching to all natural gas, or cofiring coal and natural gas;
* "trimming," or reducing annual hours of plant utilization;
* retiring old units;
* repowering existing units with new coal or non-coal boilers;
* purchasing or transferring emissions allowances from other units;
* increasing demand-side management and conservation; or
* bulk power purchases from other utilities or non-utility generators from units using coal or other fuels.

Some coal cleaning may occur in combination with other actions such as scrubbing, or blending coals with varying sulfur content, but utilities generally prefer that coal suppliers bear the costs of cleaning operations. Some observers estimated 20% - 30% of the sulfur can be removed through coal cleaning or blending, and 50% - 70% taken out with emissions control equipment.

For Phase II compliance the options were numerous, but for Phase I they were constrained by the time available to implement a decision. Because it takes 3–5 years to design and build a scrubber at an existing coal-fired unit, and longer to repower or build a new facility (e.g., 6–11 years for coal, 10–14 years for nuclear units), electric utility decision options for Phase I plants were limited to scrubbing, switching fuels, purchasing or transferring emissions allowances to allow continued use of high-sulfur coal, retiring units, or trimming unit utilization and substituting capacity from another source.

Delays in allocating "early scrub" bonus credits and scheduling of the first auction of emissions allowances in March 1993 effectively removed these incentives from actual compliance decision making of most electric utilities. Because of the time it takes to build air pollution control equipment, financial and contractual commitments to scrubbers had to be made by summer 1992 if plant modifications were to be operational in time to meet new standards in 1995. Thus, decisions had to be made before price and allocation of emissions allowances were known. Consequently, most scrubber projects to meet the 1995 deadline were well under way by fall of 1992.


Of the 261 units at 110 plant locations affected by Phase I emission limitations, five were oil-fired, five coal-fired units were retired, and one coal-fired unit was placed on cold standby status prior to passage of the legislation in 1990. The 6 inactive coal-fired units were statutory recipients of a total of 36,020 tons of Phase I sulfur dioxide emissions allowances.

This marketable windfall was estimated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 1991 to be worth $665 to $736 per ton, totaling $23.9 to $26.5 million. However, actual purchases of emissions allowances in 1992 were reported at a lower price than expected of $300 per ton.Allowances auctioned in March 1993 sold for $122 to $450 per ton, reducing the windfall from these allowances to $4.4 to $16.2 million. In the interim, owners of one unit retired in 1985, the 119 MWe Des Moines Energy Center, received $93 million in DOE funding for a Clean Coal Technology project to repower with a coal-fired 70 MWe pressurized fluidized-bed combustion unit, bringing it back into production in 1996.

Location of generating units

Excluding those 11 units, 250 active coal-fired units at 105 plants in 21 states were subject to Phase I sulfur dioxide emissions reductions in 1995. States having the greatest number of generating units affected by the Phase I requirements were: Ohio (40), Indiana (37), Pennsylvania (21), Georgia (19), Tennessee (19), Kentucky (17), Illinois (17), Missouri (16) and West Virginia (14). Together, Phase I units represented 20% of the 1,250 operable coal-fired generating units in the U.S. in 1990.

These 250 units had a summer peak generating capability of 79,162 MWe in 1990, with a mean of 317 MWe/unit. This capacity represented about 27% of installed summer coal-fired capability, and about 11.5% of total U.S. installed summer generating capability in 1990. About 207 million tons, almost 90% of the coal purchased by Phase I plants in 1990, produced sulfur dioxide emissions exceeding the 1995 emissions rate of 2.5 lbs/mm Btu using no pollution control equipment.

Age matters

Age of the 250 Phase I coal units ranged from 17 to 46 years when the standards took effect, with a mean of 34 years. In 1995, 111 active Phase I units (23%) were 35 years of age or older, and only 8 (6%) were less than 20 years old. The average age of 35 coal-fired units retired during 1988-1991 was 44.6 years, with a range of 14–74 years. These units ranged in size from 1-107 MWe summer capability. Several had been on standby (e.g., available for use during regularly scheduled outages of other units for maintenance) for many years prior to retirement. About half (often the older units) were designed to "cofire" with natural gas or fuel oil, and could be operated using these fuels instead of coal if desired.

Both the number and average age of coal-fired units retired increased substantially from 1988 to 1991, indicating utilities were removing very old units from available status that they no longer expected to use, thereby avoiding maintenance costs necessary to keep them on standby. For comparison, the 6 Phase I coal units retired before 1990 ranged in age from 21–35 years when taken out of service, with a mean of 31 years.

Age of these units was significant for several reasons. All of the Phase I units were either built or under construction when the Clean Air Act of 1977 was enacted, and all but eight were built or under construction when the 1970 Act was enacted. Consequently, these units were built when labor costs were significantly less than in the 1990s, and they avoided major investments in pollution control equipment. In the 1990s, these units were often among the least expensive of any operated by their respective owners, in terms of cost per megawatt-hour of energy produced. Compared to other plants on a utility company system, these units provided incentives for their owners to maximize operating time, minimize downtime for repairs or retrofit, and minimize further capital investments in them.

Because capital in such plants is typically amortized over 20–30 years, investments in most of them were fully recovered by 1995. Justifying large additional capital investments in plants which may have a remaining useful life of 10 years or less, absent reconstruction of boilers, is often difficult. Further, because large coal-fired generating units tend to reach peak operating and combustion efficiencies during the first three years of operation, declining incrementally thereafter throughout their lifetimes, these old plants were among the dirtiest sources of air pollution in the electric utility industry. They were able to operate for many years without substantially reducing emissions, when other plants were required to install "best available" air pollution control equipment pursuant to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977.


Uncertainties confronting electric utilities when planning compliance strategies were substantial. These included the future price and availability of fuels; the value of emissions allowances and operation of markets for them; the manner in which state public utility commissions and the Internal Revenue Service would allocate the costs of scrubbing or switching fuels and the value of emissions allowances; accounting guidelines, revisions to interstate bulk power sales contracts, and possible intervention by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in interstate transfers of emissions allowances by multi-state holding companies. Changes in the competitiveness of various generating and pollution control technologies; a myriad of new rule making actions required by the Clean Air Act; and the possibility of new legislation limiting emissions of carbon dioxide, imposing a tax on carbon emissions, or on Btu usage were also of great concern. A final rule easing some uncertainty on continuous emissions monitoring, permit requirements, and operation of the emissions allowance system was not issued until January 1993, well after compliance strategies had to be developed and major investment decisions made.

In this context, utility executives were required to make investment decisions committing millions of dollars over extended periods. As summarized by one utility manager: "Major decisions must be made without adequate information or even the ability to obtain adequate information." For example, after a protracted struggle involving the Ohio Public Utilities Commission, the Ohio Office of Consumer's Counsel, industrial customers, the Ohio Sierra Club, and the United Mine Workers at American Electric Power Company's affiliate Meigs high-sulfur coal mines, construction of scrubbers by AEP at its two-unit, 2,600 MWe Gavin plant in Ohio were expected to cost about $835 million, reducing sulfur dioxide emissions there by 95%. In February 1993, AEP was still unsure whether it would be allowed by the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to transfer emissions credits from the Gavin scrub to Phase I units in other states.Thus, substantial financial commitments had to be made on the basis of best judgments by utility planners and construction begun in the absence of definitive information or final regulatory approvals.

Innovations in coal supply contracts

The risks associated with such uncertainty stimulated innovation in contracts for purchase of coal by electric utilities. In a buyers market, utilities renegotiated old contracts and signed new ones with a variety of provisions designed to manage risks and increase flexibility for future decisions. For example, Ohio Edison signed "high/low" contracts at the end of 1991 with three coal suppliers. Under these agreements, the utility could elect to shift purchases from high-sulfur to low-sulfur coal produced by the same supplier. The supplier retained the option of continuing to ship high-sulfur coal in lieu of low-sulfur coal if it provided sufficient emissions allowances so this coal could be burned without penalty. In this event, the supplier paid for the allowances, and the utility paid the contract price for lower sulfur coal.

Additional innovative contract terms under consideration would link price premiums and penalties paid for coal with different levels of sulfur content to changes in the market price of sulfur dioxide emissions allowances; trade emissions allowances to coal suppliers as partial payment for low-sulfur coal; or establish larger variances in quantity and prices for different qualities of coal in a single contract. AMAX Energy purchased an undisclosed number of emissions allowances from Long Island Lighting Co., which it said it would offer in packages with its coal and natural gas contracts. Thus, coal suppliers began participating along with electric utilities as buyers and sellers of marketable sulfur dioxide emissions allowances.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


All hell was let loose with the recent news that there is an expected shower of acid rain across the geographical region of Nigeria. The mass media, both electronic and print, the internet, as well as mouth to mouth information have all been awash by stories of a looming bout of acid rain.

In the wake of an SMS which was sent out to a large number of people, informing them of an oncoming acid rain which was misconstrued to cause cancer and death. The full text of the message reads thus:

Be careful from the 20th to 28th of this month, there is possibility of an ACID RAIN. The dark circle appeared around the moon on 17th of last month & this is an indication of Acid Rain. Apparently this happens once in 750yrs. It rains normally but It may cause skin cancer if you expose yourself to it. So ALERT your dear ones. This information is from NASA in the USA. DO NOT neglect. Please forward this to your friends. Better to be cautious than sorry.

Granted, bad news is expected to spread with more voracity and intensity, this explains how and why the current wave of stories about the acid rain has circulated across Nigeria. But some reasonable questions to be asked are: what is an acid rain, and is it a new occurrence? What are the effects of acid rain? How come it is just beginning to take preeminence in the minds of people?

First, let us understand the phenomenon described as acid rain and shed more light on the principles that govern its formation, activation and eventual release.

What is an acid rain?
Acid rain is rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, i.e. elevated levels of hydrogen ions (low pH). It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure through the process of wet deposition. Acid rain is caused by emissions of compounds of ammonium, carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur which react with the water molecules in the atmosphere to produce acids.

What is the history of acid rain?
Since the Industrial Revolution, emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides to the atmosphere have increased. In 1852, Robert Angus Smith was the first to show the relationship between acid rain and atmospheric pollution in Manchester, England. Though acidic rain was discovered in 1852, it was not until the late 1960s that scientists began widely observing and studying the phenomenon. The term "acid rain" was generated in 1972. Canadian Harold Harvey was among the first to research a "dead" lake. Public awareness of acid rain in the U.S increased in the 1970s after the New York Times promulgated reports from the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire of the myriad deleterious environmental effects demonstrated to result from it.

What are the effects of acid rain?
Surface waters and aquaticv animals
Both the lower pH and higher aluminium concentrations in surface water that occur as a result of acid rain can cause damage to fish and other aquatic animals. At pHs lower than 5 most fish eggs will not hatch and lower pHs can kill adult fish. As lakes and rivers become more acidic biodiversity is reduced. Acid rain has eliminated insect life and some fish species, including the brook trout in some lakes, streams, and creeks in geographically sensitive areas, such as the Adirondack Mountains of the United States.

Soil biology and chemistry can be seriously damaged by acid rain. Some microbes are unable to tolerate changes to low pHs and are killed. The enzymes of these microbes are denatured (changed in shape so they no longer function) by the acid. The hydronium ions of acid rain also mobilize toxins such as aluminium, and leach away essential nutrients and minerals such as magnesium.

Forests and other vegetation
Adverse effects may be indirectly related to acid rain, like the acid's effects on soil (see above) or high concentration of gaseous precursors to acid rain. High altitude forests are especially vulnerable as they are often surrounded by clouds and fog which are more acidic than rain.

Other plants can also be damaged by acid rain, but the effect on food crops is minimized by the application of lime and fertilizers to replace lost nutrients. In cultivated areas, limestone may also be added to increase the ability of the soil to keep the pH stable, but this tactic is largely unusable in the case of wilderness lands. When calcium is leached from the needles of red spruce, these trees become less cold tolerant and exhibit winter injury and even death.

Human health
Scientists have suggested direct links to human health. Fine particles, a large fraction of which are formed from the same gases as acid rain (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide), have been shown to cause illness and preature deaths such as cancer and other diseases.

Other adverse effects
Acid rain can also damage buildings and historic monuments, especially those made of rocks such as limestone and marble containing large amounts of calcium carbonate. Acids in the rain react with the calcium compounds in the stones to create gypsum, which then flakes off.

Clearly, it is obvious that the case of the recent alarm oozes out of the thoughts of some mischievous individuals or groups who decided to cash in on the wide gap of illiteracy in the country. Contrary to the contents of the SMS's that have been sent out, “Scientists have suggested direct links to human health.” and cancer have not been directly linked to acid rain.

The simple truth is that as long as we (humans) continue to embarrass mother nature and pollute her with our knack for comfort, we would in turn, be embarrassed by mother nature. Acid rain has been around for a very long time, it is as old as the very first time that we have released ammonium, carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur into the atmosphere.

Acid Rain – Control If Before It Ruins New Parts Of The Earth

Acid rain was a very common phenomenon before many governments stepped in to put an end to it. It is a term given to precipitation which contains various acids, but mostly sulfuric acid, which get formed when gases emitted by industry and vehicles combine with water droplets in the air. Acid rain is the most common term for this precipitation although it can also take the form of snow or fog depending on the climactic conditions of the place where it occurs. Acid rain or snow has a devastating effect on the land where it falls. It can destroy vegetation as well as animal life. Trees are stripped bare of their leaves when this rain falls on them. It can also damage the soil for good, making it unfit for cultivation. The negative results of acid rain do not stop at this. The acids wash into rivers and lakes where they kill fish and other marine life mercilessly. Certain places at high altitudes have suffered greatly as a result of these acids especially when trees in these places are surrounded by acid fog for extended periods of time. Acid rain is mostly caused due to the presence of sulfur dioxide in industrial emissions that combine with water particles to form sulfuric acid. Nitrogen dioxide in emissions causes nitric acid to be formed in the same way. Governments have stepped in to regulate emissions from various factories. They have to make certain modifications to their chimneys whereby these gases are not allowed to escape into the atmosphere. This involves the use of new technology, especially in the form of a wet scrubber that converts these gases into other products. A lot of nitrogen oxide also escapes in the form of automobile emissions. Steps are being taken to control these emissions in order to reduce the pollution of the environment. While many developed nations have already put many environmental measures and laws in place, the spotlight has now shifted to developing nations. Pollution is on the increase in these countries and they do not all have access to technology or money to control emissions. Besides, these countries resent the attempts by developed nations to curtail their industrial growth after the developed nations have already created substantial wealth after destroying the environment. It is now up to each individual to do something to help save the planet from acid rain. The choices we make in terms of the products we use have a direct bearing on the health of our planet and out future on it. International treaties and discussions are in place to put an end to acid rain. It will require the cooperation of all countries in order to make this venture a success. After all, rain clouds know no boundaries and pollution in one country can lead to acid rain in another country. The problem of industrial pollution and acid rain has to be tackled on a war footing because if it allowed to continue the results could be devastating for the earth.

What Is Acid Precipitation?

Acid precipitation is more commonly referred to as acid rain, but can also mean sleet, snow, fog, or mist with an unusually high acid component. Precipitation is generally considered to be acid if the pH is lower than 5.6, compared to pure distilled water, which has a pH of 7.0. Acid precipitation is considered by many experts to be a potentially environmentally devastating phenomena often associated with global warming and high greenhouse gas levels.

Certain chemical emissions, such as sulfur or nitrogen dioxide, are considered mainly responsible for increased levels of acidity in precipitation. When these chemicals are released into the air, they can mix with water-bearing chemicals and become part of the cloud makeup. When a cloud releases water in the form of rain, snow, or sleet, the absorbed chemicals increase the acidic content of the water, resulting in acid precipitation.

High levels of acid rain are linked to areas with heavy industrial usage and high vehicle density. The emissions from cars, buses, and industrial plants are all associated with high levels of acid in precipitation. In the United States, the Northeastern states typically show the highest level of acid precipitation, which most experts consider to be a direct result of the urban and industrial density throughout the region. According to some studies, average acidity levels for precipitation in the Northeastern states can be as low as 4.3 on the pH scale.

The damage caused by acid precipitation has long been studied but is only recently being given serious attention. Studies on acid rain have been conducted since at least the 19th century, when Scottish scientist Robert Angus Smith published a book on the effects of local industry pollution on air, land and local agriculture. Since Smith’s time, detailed scientific studies have suggested links between acid rain and severe ecological damage to water sources and soil as well as human and animal existence.

Acid precipitation can be devastating to both freshwater and marine ecosystems. In addition to raising the acid content of the water, high acid levels can also deteriorate bedrock systems, allowing hard metals stored in the rocks to seep into the water. Many experts attribute falling fish counts to a buildup of mercury in fish habitats, largely due bedrock excretions of the chemical.

High acidic content in rain and other forms of precipitation can also destroy the nutritional value of topsoil, starving crops of necessary nourishment. The alterations to soil makeup can prove deadly to certain plant species, such as maple trees, that are dependent on low acid soil in order to grow. Some studies suggest that the centuries-old market for maple sugar and syrup is greatly endangered thanks to loss of maple trees.

Even human invention risks damage from acid precipitation. In urban areas with high levels of acid rain, monuments, historical buildings, and artwork exposed to the elements are often endangered by acid rain. Traditional building materials such as marble and limestone include a calcium content that is easily damaged by high acidity, while metals like copper and bronze quickly oxidize in acidic conditions, leading to blemishes and discoloration. Famous buildings such as the Parthenon, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Taj Mahal are all under careful observation after showing signs of material erosion thanks to acid precipitation.

Harmful Consequences of Acid Rain

Pollution causes impurities to rain water and turning it to acidic substance. It is said that rain water contains many minerals and it is good for the skin and hair. However, due to the pollutants on it, it is not pure anymore. Acid rain can bring negative effects on plants, animals and even human beings. In this article, the causes of acid rain will be discussed as well as its effects on the life in the planet.

Pollutants and harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and ammonium when mixed with rain water in the atmosphere, will turn the rain droplets acidic. High level of hydrogen ions in the rain water will result to the pH level of the water to drop below 7. Acid rain, if it will fall to the ground, will result to destruction of vegetation and other life forms.

Vegetation is one of the living things that can be affected by acid rainffected by acid rain. Acid rain causes damage to microorganisms in the soil that usually helps in biochemical processes. It also affects the pollination and reproduction of plants. Acid rain can remove the waxy coating of the plants, thus, making them prone to diseases.

Metals can be corroded by acid rain. Moreover, harmful metals such as aluminum and mercury can be leak into the soils and be washed to the bodies of water resulting to damage or even death of aquatic life. Not only will that fishes die, but greater amount of these harmful chemicals stocked in the body of fishes will cause harmful effects to humans.

Acid rain is also known to affect human beings. It can cause problems in the skin like burns and blisters. Too much acid in theuch acid in the rain can also lead to burning of the skin. Acid rain, according to doctors, can also cause skin cancer. Humans can have health problems due to acid rainue to acid rain by consuming plants and animals that contain harmful chemicals.

These are the facts about acid rain and how it can affect living things. May we perform our tasks as guardians of our mother nature.

Prevent Acid rain:

It's high times that we react, respond and do something to save our atmosphere from getting destroyed.Let's go by the saying that prevention is better than cure.I have mu own suggestions to say:

1)Make the less use of automobiles.Use cycles or non-polluted vehicles for nearby purposes keeping aside the matter of dignity and status.

2)Use electric cars which run on battery to prevent acid rain.Though electric cars are not a big hit try using them for minor uses and and new formula is to be invented for battery based vehicles.

3)Industries must reduce the sulfur content from the smoke they release. The smoke should be checked before they are released into the atmosphere.

4)Find new ways and methods to burn coal or else replace current and electricity for these means and get the maximum out of it.

5)Government should get into the picture, play an active role and check the pollution levels of factories, industries and automobiles and vehicles.

6)developing countries should learn from the developed countries and curb the destruction as drop and drop only make a big ocean.

If at least some the methods are implemented the effects of scid rain can be reduced in the coming future days.

How is Acid Rain Formed

What is acid rain?
Acid rain is classified as any form of precipitation (rain, snow, fog, hail) that has a pH of 4 or lower. It is primarily a result of air pollution. Particular gases released into the atmosphere react with the water particles in clouds and combine to make a very weak form of acid. Acid rain can have harmful effects on plant life, water supplies and aquatic life and some forms of infrastructure. Acid rain is not acidic enough to burn your skin upon contact. The acid that is formed in the atmosphere can also fall as acidic dust and pollute the soil many thousands of kilometers from the source of the pollution.

How is acid rain formed?
There are three main causes of acid rain, but both are due to the same gases being released into the atmosphere. Acid rain is caused by the two main air pollutants, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. When these gases come into contact with the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in water they combine to form a weak acid. The major cause of acid rain is air pollution by burning fossil fuels, smelting metals and motor vehicles. Acid rain can also be caused naturally by the eruption of a volcano. When a volcano erupts it produces a large amount of sulfur dioxide and it is not uncommon to have acid rain. Acid rain can also be caused by lightning strikes as these naturally produce nitrogen oxide.

How does acid rain effect the environment?
In the 1970’s the effects of acid rain were at their worst. Many forests the world over were dying and there were many cases where marine life in lakes and rivers died out or became mutated. Governments the world over worked to lower the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that they were adding to the atmosphere. Acid rain is often felt in countries many thousands of kilometers from major air pollution. Mountainous regions are more likely to suffer from greater acid rain fall due to the higher rainfall received in these areas.

How to Avoid Acid Rain

Acid rain is a popular phrase used to describe rain, snow, fog, or other precipitation that is full of acids that collect in the atmosphere due to the burning of fuels such as coal, petroleum, and gasoline. Acid rain was first recognized in Europe in the late 1800s but did not come to widespread public attention until about 1970, when its harmful effects on the environment were publicized. Research has shown that in many parts of the world, lakes, streams, and soils have become increasingly acidic, prompting a corresponding decline in fish populations. Acid rain occurs when polluted gases become trapped in clouds that drift for hundreds, even thousands, of miles and are finally released as acidic precipitation. Trees, lakes, animals, and even buildings are vulnerable to the slow, corrosive effects of acid rain.

Acidification, the process of making acid, is not just caused by deposits of acidic rain but also by chemicals in snow and fog and by gases and particulates when precipitation is not occurring. The major human-made causes of acid deposition are (1) emissions of sulfur dioxide from power plants that burn coal and oil and (2) emissions of nitrogen oxides from automobiles. These emissions are transformed into sulfuric acid and nitric acid in the atmosphere, where they accumulate in cloud droplets and fall to Earth in rain and snow, wet deposition. Other sources of acid deposition are gases like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, as well as very small particulates. These gases and particulates are usually deposited when it is not raining or snowing which is called dry deposition.

While large areas of Europe and North America are exposed to acidifying depositions, only certain types of ecosystems are affected by these depositions. The most vulnerable ecosystems usually have a thin cover of soil, containing little calcium and sitting upon solid rock made up of hard minerals such as granite or quartz. Many freshwater lakes, streams, and rivers have become acidic, resulting in the decline or local destruction of some plant and animal populations. It is not yet certain that land-based ecosystems have been affected by acidic deposition. After acid rain was discovered in Europe, scientists began measuring the acidity of rain in North America. Initially, they found that the problem was concentrated in the northeastern states of New York and Pennsylvania because the type of coal burned there was more sulfur containing.

Acid rain is measured through pH tests that determine the concentration of hydrogen ions in a liter of fluid. The pH scale is used to measure acidity or alkalinity. It runs from 0 to 14. Water has a neutral pH of 7. The greater the concentration of hydrogen ions and the lower the pH number, the more acidic a substance is and the lower the concentration of hydrogen ions and the higher the pH number, the more alkaline or basic a substance is. So a pH greater than 7 indicates an alkaline substance while a pH less than 7 indicates an acidic substance. It is important to note that a change of only one unit in pH equals a tenfold change in the concentration of hydrogen ions. For example, a solution of pH 3 is 10 times more acidic than a solution of pH 4. Normal rain and snow measure about pH 5.60. In environmental science, the definition of acid precipitation refers to a pH less than 5.65.

Measured values of acid rain vary according to geographical area. When pH levels are drastically upset in soil and water, entire lakes and forests are endangered. Evergreen trees in high elevations are especially vulnerable. Although the acid rain itself does not kill the trees, it makes them more susceptible to disease. Also, high acid levels in soil cause leaching of other valuable minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Small marine organisms cannot survive in acidic lakes and rivers, and their depletion affects the larger fish who usually feed on them, and, ultimately, the entire marine-life food chain. Snow from acid rain is also damaging; snowmelt has been known to cause massive, instant death for many kinds of fish. Some lakes in Scandinavia and New York's Adirondack Mountains are completely devoid of fish life. Acid rain also eats away at buildings and metal structures. From the Acropolis in Greece to Renaissance buildings in Italy, ancient structures are showing signs of corrosion from acid rain. In some industrialized parts of Poland, trains cannot exceed 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour because the iron railway tracks have been weakened from acidic air pollution. Usually, waters affected by acid rain are treated by adding limestone or lime, an alkaline substance (base) that reduces acidity. Fishery biologists especially are interested in liming acidic lakes to make them more habitable for sport fish. In some parts of Scandinavia, for instance, liming is used extensively to make the biological damage of acidification less severe.

While neutralizing ecosystems that have become acidic, treats the symptoms but not the sources of acidification. Although exact sources of acid rain are difficult to pinpoint and the actual amount of damage caused by acid deposition is uncertain, it is agreed that acid rain levels need to be reduced. Scientific evidence supports the notion that what goes up must come down, and because of public awareness and concerns about acid rain in many countries, politicians have begun to act decisively in controlling or eliminating human causes of such pollution. Emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are being reduced, especially in Western Europe and North America. For example, in 1992 the governments of the United States and Canada signed an air-quality agreement aimed at reducing acidifying depositions in both countries. While countries in Western Europe and North American have actively carried out actions to reduce emissions of gases leading to acid deposition for a number of years, countries in other parts of the world have only recently addressed the issue. In Eastern Europe, Russia, China, India, Southeast Asia, Mexico, and various developing nations, acid rain and other pollution problems are finally gaining notice. For example, in 1999, scientists identified a haze of air pollution that hovers over the Indian Ocean near Asia during the winter. The 3.8 million-square-mile haze (about the size of the combined area of all fifty American states) is made up of small by-products from the burning of fossil fuels. Such a cloud has the potential to cool Earth, harming both marine and terrestrial life.

Effects of acid rain on automotive coatings

Acid rain and the dry deposition of acidic particles contribute to the corrosion of metals (such as bronze) and the deterioration of paint and stone (such as marble and limestone). These effects seriously reduce the value to society of buildings, bridges, cultural objects (such as statues, monuments, and tombstones), and cars.

Over the past two decades, there have been numerous reports of damage to automotive paints and other coatings. The reported damage typically occurs on horizontal surfaces and appears as irregularly shaped, permanently etched areas. The damage can best be detected under fluorescent lamps, can be most easily observed on dark colored vehicles, and appears to occur after evaporation of a moisture droplet. In addition, some evidence suggests damage occurs most frequently on freshly painted vehicles. Usually the damage is permanent; once it has occurred, the only solution is to repaint.

The general consensus within the auto industry is that the damage is caused by some form of environmental fallout. "Environmental fallout," a term widely used in the auto and coatings industries, refers to damage caused by air pollution (e.g., acid rain), decaying insects, bird droppings, pollen, and tree sap. The results of laboratory experiments and at least one field study have demonstrated that acid rain can scar automotive coatings. Furthermore, chemical analyses of the damaged areas of some exposed test panels showed elevated levels of sulfate, implicating acid rain.

The popular term "acid rain" refers to both wet and dry deposition of acidic pollutants that may damage material surfaces, including auto finishes. These pollutants, which are released when coal and other fossil fuels are burned, react with water vapor and oxidants in the atmosphere and are chemically transformed into sulfuric and nitric acids. The acidic compounds then may fall to earth as rain, snow, fog, or may join dry particles and fall as dry deposition. Automotive coatings may be damaged by all forms of acid rain, including dry deposition, especially when dry acidic deposition is mixed with dew or rain. However, it has been difficult to quantify the specific contribution of acid rain to paint finish damage relative to damage caused by other forms of environmental fallout, by the improper application of paint or by deficient paint formulations. According to coating experts, trained specialists can differentiate between the various forms of damage, but the best way of determining the cause of chemically induced damage is to conduct a detailed, chemical analysis of the damaged area.

Because evaporation of acidic moisture appears to be a key element in the damage, any steps taken to eliminate its occurrence on freshly painted vehicles may alleviate the problem. The steps include frequent washing followed by hand drying, covering the vehicle during precipitation events, and use of one of the protective coatings currently on the market that claim to protect the original finish.

The auto and coatings industries are fully aware of the potential damage and are actively pursuing the development of coatings that are more resistant to environmental fallout, including acid rain. The problem is not a universal one-- it does not affect all coatings or all vehicles even in geographic areas known to be subject to acid rain-- which suggests that technology exists to protect against this damage. Until that technology is implemented to protect all vehicles or until acid deposition is adequately reduced, frequent washing and drying and covering the vehicle appear to be the best methods for consumers who wish to minimize acid rain damage. (EPA)

What Are the Different Types of Acid Rain Damage?

Acid rain is precipitation contaminated with highly acidic particles. It occurs both as a result of natural activity, such as volcanic eruptions, and the collection of man-made particulate matter and emissions in the atmosphere. According to many environmental experts and scientists, severe environmental and even structural damage can be caused by acid rain, leading many to call for updated emission standards that would reduce man-made acid precipitation.

When certain chemical gases such as sulfur dioxide, ammonium, or nitrogen are expelled into the atmosphere, they can combine with water molecules to create acid-heavy clouds. These clouds may be propelled by the wind and atmospheric changes, eventually releasing precipitation in the form of acid rain, snow, sleet, fog, or other types of precipitation. Damage is caused when the acidic nature of this precipitation mixes with whatever it hits, including soil, stone, plants, or water.

Acid rain damage takes many forms and can have many outcomes. Generally, the precipitation causes alteration to the pH balance of whatever it touches, resulting in changes to the chemical makeup. According to studies, these chemical alterations can have devastating effects on all types of ecosystems and may even pose danger to human health and civilization.

Nutrient depletion in soil is one common type of acid rain damage. As the acidic water compounds hit the soil, they can leach out vital nutrients that make soil fertile. Enough contamination can lead to patches of soil becoming unable to support life, cutting off the nutritional feed line to any plants in the affected area. The chemical compounds in the rain disperse in the soil, allowing the accumulation of harmful chemicals, such as aluminum, that can kill plants. From this point on, the destruction accumulates, as the resulting die-off of plants leads to diminished habitat and food sources for resident animal, bird, and insect populations.

Acid rain damage can also be extremely dangerous to water-based ecosystems. As the acidic water falls into a lake or stream, the pH balance drops and harmful chemicals, like aluminum and mercury, are released into the body of water. Many aquatic species are extremely sensitive to acid and cannot hatch eggs or survive in contaminated waters; additionally, increased acid levels may kill aquatic plants and micro-organisms, destroying the main food sources of many aquatic creatures.

In human society, some studies have linked high acid rain damage to cancers and other illnesses. This dangerous precipitation also can be extremely destructive to certain types of stone, such as limestone and marble, and has caused severe damage to many ancient buildings, bridges, monuments, and works of art. Acid rain damage has caused many governments to enact protective and restoration efforts to preserve national monuments, including the Statue of Liberty in New York, and the Parthenon in Athens.

Acid rain- its effects and control measures

When fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are burned, chemicals like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are produced. These chemicals react with water and other chemicals in the air to form sulfuric acid, nitric acid and other harmful pollutants like sulfates and nitrates. These acid pollutants spread upwards into the atmosphere, and are carried by air currents, to finally return to the ground in the form of acid rain, fog or snow. The corrosive nature of acid rain causes many forms of environmental damage. Acid pollutants also occur as dry particles and gases, which when washed from the ground by rain, add to the acids in the rain to form an even more corrosive solution. This is called acid deposition.

Damage from acid rain is widespread in North America, Europe, Japan, China and South-east Asia. In the US, coal-burning power plants contribute to about 70% of sulfur dioxide. In Canada, oil refining, metal smelting and other industrial activities account for 61% of the sulfur dioxide pollution. Motor vehicle exhaust fumes are the main source of nitrogen oxides. The acids in acid rain chemically react with any object they come into contact with.

Effects of Acid Rain

1)Acid rain dissolves and washes away nutrients in the soil, which are needed by plants. It can also dissolve naturally occurring toxic substances like aluminum and mercury, freeing them to pollute water or poison plants.
2)Acid rain indirectly affects plants by removing nutrients from the soil in which they grow. It affects trees more directly by creating holes in the waxy coating of leaves, causing brown dead spots which affect the plant's photosynthesis. Such trees are also more vulnerable to insect infestations, drought and cold. Spruce and fir forests at higher elevations seem to be most at risk. Farm crops are less affected by acid rain than forest.
3)Acid rain that falls or flows as ground water to reach rivers, lakes arid wetlands, causes the water in them to become acidic. This affects plant and animal life in aquatic ecosystems.
4)Acid rain also has far reaching effects on wildlife. By adversely affecting one species, the entire food chain is disrupted, ultimately endangering the entire ecosystem. Different aquatic species can tolerate different levels of acidity. For example, clams and mayflies have a high mortality when water has a pH of 6.0. Frogs can tolerate more acidic water, although with the decline in supply of mayflies, frog populations may also decline. Land animals that are dependent on aquatic organisms are also affected.
5)Acid rain and dry acid deposition damages buildings, automobiles, and other structures made of stone or metal. The acid corrodes the materials causing extensive damage and ruins historic buildings. For example, the Parthenon in Greece and the Taj Mahal in India have been affected by acid rain.
6)Although surface water polluted by acid rain does not directly harm people, the toxic substances leached from soil can pollute the water supply. Fish caught in these waters may be harmful for human consumption. Acid, along with other chemicals in the air, produces urban smog, which causes respiratory problems.

Control Measures for Acid Rain

Improvement in technologies and switching to clean combustion technologies are highly essential. Coal with lower sulphur content is desirable to use in thermal plants. Replacement of coal by natural gas would also reduce the problem substantially. Installing scrubbers to reduce smoke stack emissions, though expensive, would be economical compared to the losses due to damage done to lakes, forests, monuments, food production and so on. Billions of dollars are spent in repairing the damage to buildings in Europe annually.

Chemistry of Acid Rain

In its purest state, rain water is like distilled water. It does not have carbon dioxide dissolved in it. It is neutral, with a pH level of 7. pH is the concentration of hydrogen ions in an aqueous solution. If the pH level is above 7, it is said to be basic, and if it is below 7, it is said to be acidic in nature.

As rain water falls through the atmosphere, particles suspended in the air are dissolved in it. These substances are generally dust, pollen grains and carbon dioxide (CO2). Emissions of volcanoes and lightning tend to decrease the pH level of acid rain, making it even more acidic. CO2 combines with water to form carbonic acid (H2CO3).

H2O(l) + CO2(g) = H2CO3(aq)

Carbonic acid ionizes in water to form low concentrations of carbonate and hydronium ions.

2H2O(l) + H2CO3(aq) = CO32-(aq) + 2H30+(aq)

Carbonic acid is a weak acid. It brings down the pH of the rain water to 6.0-5.2. With pH levels ranging between 6.0-5.2, rain water is acidic, but still not dangerous. This is a reversible reaction.

The problem occurs when rain water combines with gaseous oxides of sulfur, nitrogen, and phosphoric and hydrochloric acid mists. The latter two and sulfur are released into the atmosphere from automobile exhausts, industries and electric power plants. Nitrogen forms a major part of atmospheric composition. These chemicals bring down the acid rain pH level to 5.6-3.5. Sometimes, the pH level can even become as low as 2. This phenomenon of acidic rain water precipitation, is called acid rain. Rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, hail, fog and dew are other forms of precipitation.

Chemistry of Acid Rain
Sulfuric acid and nitric acid are the main acids present in acid rain. Sulfuric acid is formed as follows:
Sulfur released into the atmosphere combines with atmospheric oxygen to form sulfur dioxide (SO2)
Sulfur dioxide reacts with atmospheric water to form sulfurous acid - SO2(g) + H20(l) = H2SO3(aq)
Sulfurous acid is also present in acid rain.
Sulfur dioxide gradually oxidizes to form sulfur trioxide (SO3) - 2SO2(g) = O2(g) = 2SO3(g)
Sulfur trioxide reacts with water to form Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) - SO3(g) + H20(l) = H2SO4(aq)
Nitrogen dioxide(NO2) is formed as follows:
Nitrogen combines with atmospheric oxygen to form nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Nitrogen dioxide reacts with water to form nitrous acid (HNO2) and nitric acid (HNO3) - 2NO2(l) + H2O(l) = HNO2(aq) + HNO3(aq)
Acid rain is a mild combination of mainly sulfuric and nitric acid. Sulfurous acid and nitrous acid are less stable and are present only in very low amounts. Following are the various adverse effects of acid rain on living organisms and infrastructure.

Buildings and Monuments: Acid rain causes severe damage to buildings and marble statues. Acid rain reacts with the calcium carbonate (CaCo3) to form soluble calcium hydrogen carbonate or calcium bicarbonate, Ca(HCO3)2 - CaCO3 + Acid rain = Ca(HCO3)2(aq)
Calcium bicarbonate is a powdery substance, which is easily washed away with water or more specifically, rain water. This is the way acid rain has partly eroded many world-famous monuments and buildings like the Taj Mahal in India, St. Paul's Cathedral in London, and the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Acid rain can destroy stained glass windows in churches, bridges made of steel, and railway tracks. It corrodes metal, ruins the paint color, weakens leather and forms a crust on glass surfaces.

Trees and Plants: Acid rain washes away important minerals from leaves and soil. Acid rain also blocks the small pores on the leaves' surface, through which they take in carbon dioxide. With improper functioning of leaves, the growth of trees gets retarded. This results in a loss of leaves, stunted growth and damaged bark. Such trees are more prone to attacks by fungi and insects. This can even result in the death of trees.

Soil: Soil contains many harmful minerals such as mercury and aluminum. These elements can't be absorbed by plants and trees and are thus harmless. Upon contact with acid rain, these chemicals undergo chemical reactions with the acids. As a result, compounds of aluminum, lead and mercury are formed. Plants and trees can easily absorb these compounds. Such elements, which are extremely harmful to living forms, ultimately affect the entire food chain. These chemicals not only harm the flora, but also the animals that feed on them.

Water Bodies: Harmful substances like aluminum, lead and mercury, as discussed above, are washed away from the soil to neighboring water resources by the acid rain, thus resulting in water pollution. These chemicals and their acids do not allow the flora and fauna to grow and reproduce. This also results in depletion of oxygen levels in water, thereby making it difficult for fish to respire. They die due to suffocation and poisoning caused by the presence of these chemicals.

Birds that feed on fish that are affected by these harmful chemicals, accumulate these elements in their systems. These chemicals are then passed on to animals that feed on such birds. In this manner, chemicals get introduced to each trophic level of the food chain. In each trophic level, the concentration of chemicals gets multiplied. This phenomenon is known as biomagnification.

Human Health: Acid rain is harmful to human health. Drinking water contaminated by aluminium, mercury and lead is highly dangerous for human health.

Acids are very small and fine particles. They are normally in a liquid state. When they are present in the atmosphere, they easily enter the lungs while breathing. Research has proven that these particles can even lead to cancer.

Solutions to Acid Rain

Acid rain is potent enough to destroy life on Earth. It damages anything it comes in contact with. It ruins forests, water bodies, soil, infrastructure, and the health of living beings. It's high time we take all possible measures to control it. There is a solution to every problem, and acid rain is no exception. Take a look at the various measures we can take.Human beings should reduce the use of fossil fuels. This would lessen the emission of nitrogen and sulfur in the environment. Public transportation, car pools and walking can reduce nitrogen, sulfur and lead emissions into the atmosphere. Sulfur and nitrogen are mostly released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels (e.g. Coal). Switching over to alternative forms of energy such as geothermal, water, wind, and solar power would help to a great extent.