Chapter 3-
Solutions to Acid Rain

Since acid rain is mainly caused by coal-burning power plants that release nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, we should  investigate what are the steps that can be done about the operations, the fuels and the facilities of these power plants.

Reducing Pollution
First, power plants should use coal that contains less sulphur. Sulphur is present in  coal as an impurity, and it reacts with air when the coal is burned to form sulphur dioxide. Another option is to wash the coal to remove some of the sulfur. Power plants can also install devices called scrubbers to chemically remove the sulphur dioxide from the gases leaving the smokestacks of the power plants. Alternatively, power plants can change their fuels by using natural gas. Burning natural gas creates much less sulfur dioxide than coal.

 Other Sources of Energy

Another way to reduce acid rain is to produce energy without using fossil fuels. Instead, we can use renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power. Renewable energy sources help reduce acid rain because they create much less pollution. There are also other sources of electricity, such as nuclear power, hydropower, and geothermal energy. Of these, nuclear and hydropower are used most widely. More efforts are required from all sectors of the society to promote renewable energy sources. 

Cleaner Cars

Cars and trucks are also major sources of the pollutants that cause acid rain. While one car alone does not produce much pollution,  all the cars on the road added together create lots of pollution.  One type of technology used in cars is called a catalytic converter. This piece of equipment has been used for over 20 years to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides released by cars. Some new cars can also use cleaner fuels, such as natural gas. Catalytic converters reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from cars. These devices have been used for over twenty years now, and it is important to keep them working properly. EPA has also made, and continues to make, changes to gasoline that allows it to burn cleaner.

There are also alternative energies available to power automobiles, including natural gas powered vehicles, battery-powered cars, fuel cells, and combinations of alternative and gasoline powered vehicles.


The Role of The Individuals

Governments, power companies and scientists are not the only ones that can take action to stop acid rain. We can become part of the solution. It may seem like there is not much that one individual can do. However, environmental problems are usually caused by the cumulative actions of millions of individual people. Therefore, each individual can also reduce their contribution to the problem and become part of the solution.

Understanding the Problems

The first step we can take to help control acid rain is to understand the problem and its solutions. We should also tell others about it. By telling our classmates, parents, and teachers about what we learned on this project, we can help educate them about the problem of acid rain. We can make a difference!

Conserve Energy
Since energy production creates large amounts of the pollutants that cause acid rain, one important step we can take is to conserve energy. We can do this in a number of ways, such as turning off lights, computers, televisions, video games, and other  electrical equipment when we
re not using them; encourage our parents to buy equipment that uses less electricity, including lights, air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators, and washing machines and try to limit the use of air conditioning. We should also consider installing compact fluorescent bulbs instead of high wattage incandescent bulbs. Using less energy benefits the environment because the energy used comes from fossil fuels, which can lead to acid rain.

Driving cars and trucks produces large amounts of nitrogen oxides, which cause acid   rain. To help cut down on air pollution from cars, we can carpool or take public transportation, such as buses and MTR. We can also use alternative fuels, such as ethanol, propane or natural gas. Walk as much as possible and take vehicular transport only when it is absolutely necessary.


In developed countries, public concern over the effects of acid rain has been transformed (after a lot of controversy and fighting) into laws, restricting the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which can be released by power plants and industries. The result has been a slight decrease in annual acidic deposition in some areas. There is also evidence that when acid deposition is reduced ecosystems can recover. In the future, it will be very important for the industrialized world to teach the developing world its technology and experience, in order to make sure that the same acid rain problems do not occur in these countries when they consume more energy during the process of industrialization.

By Tracy Teng (35)