Straight from the Broadway musical "The Sound of Music" comes the song “My Favorite Things” by Mary Martin and Patricia Neway. Among many favorites, Martin and Neway begin with 'raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens'. But do you think that they considered acid rain when they spoke of raindrops? Most likely they did not.


"Acid rain refers to a component of the atmosphere containing abnormally high amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. Acid rain formation is produced from natural sources, such as volcanoes and decaying vegetation, and man-made sources, such as emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) resulting from fossil fuel combustion." [1] These types of raindrops are not suitable for anyone’s beautiful blooming roses.

Causes and Effects of Acid Rain

Nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide are the two main sources of acid rain. Sulfur dioxide is commonly a by-product of various industrial plant processes. In addition, acts of nature can also cause a release of sulfur dioxide into the environment. Approximately 69% of sulfur dioxide emissions into the atmosphere are caused by industrial combustion. 3.7% of sulfur dioxide comes from emissions from vehicles. [2]

Acid rain is very harmful to the environment in numerous ways. It can seep into the soil that the trees and plants depend on for nutrients. As the acid rain poisons the soil, it consumes the nutrients in the soil that trees, plants, and many other types of vegetation need for their survival. Acid rain can also fall from the sky and poison the leaves of plants by corroding their waxy coating, leaving them susceptible to harsh weather and disease. Acid rain pollution that is generated from industry necessitates more strenuous efforts of maintaining a clean environment.

Alleviating Acid Rain

There are things we can do as a society to lessen the effects of acid rain all over the world. But we must ensure that everyone becomes knowledgeable regarding the dangers of acid rain. In addition, the following steps can be taken worldwide to counter the effects of acid rain [3]:

• Utilize fuels that burn more cleanly and burn coal more efficiently.
• Attach devices known as 'scrubbers' in the chimneys of industrial plants. These scrubbers reduce the amount of sulfur produced in industrial plant emissions by 90 - 95%.
• Vehicles and cars must comply with efficient emission standards. Fitting catalytic converters into the exhaust pipes of vehicles will also reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide produced by vehicles.
• Companies or industrial plants with significant emissions must take a vigilant approach towards keeping their equipment clean.

Acid rain is a global problem that must be treated as such. We must educate the world on the causes, effects, and possible ways to alleviate it from our environment. It is essential to do everything in our power to leave our environment in as clean a condition as we are able to. Let’s leave a cleaner environment for the generations that are to follow us.