Effects of Acid Rain on Freshwater
D. W. Schindler, 1988
Science Vol. 239, pgs. 149-157
Reviewed by Christina Misiaszek
This is an excellent paper for the purpose of our course. It is an interesting and informative article
explaining various aspects of the problem of acid rain. The purpose of this paper is to present recent
progress made in the understanding of acid rain and its effects on North America n aquatic resources.
The author covers several areas, such as the origin and extent of acid rain, rates of increase in acid rain,
evidence for biological change, recovery from acidification, and the interaction of acid rain with other
pollutants and terre stial ecosystems, giving a wide overview of the problem. The data and examples used
by the author are from all over the world, such as eastern North America, Sweden, and other parts of
North America and Europe, allowing the reader to get a global view of the problem acid rain poses. The
author ends with a clear message: regional air pollution is much more severe than believed in the past,
and more comphrehensive measures to control it are necessary to preserve the integrity of the biosphere.
The term acid rain, coined by Angus Smith, was first used to describe the effects that industrial emission
had on the precipitation of the British Midlands, just over a century ago. The wide spread scale of acid
rain effects was not recognized until the mid-20th century, but it wasn't until the late 1970s that
governments began sponsoring studies of the problem.
The Origin and Extent of Acid Rain
The pH of natural unpolluted precipitation is close to 5.0. This is due to the saturation of the water with
carbon dioxide, as well as the presence of both weak and strong acids of natural origin. Areas within
several hundred kilometers of industrial ce nters have precipitation of much lower pH values. Acid rain is
widespread in northern Europe and eastern Nor th America. It has also been discovered in western North
America, Japan, China, the Soviet Union