A booklet recently released by Environment Canada describes acid rain in terms easily understood by the general public. Although Acid Rain — The Facts tends somewhat to give the Canadian side of this intercountry controversial subject, it nevertheless presents some very interesting, simple statistics of interest to people in either the U.S. or Canada. Copies of the booklet can be obtained from Inquiry Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A OH3, Canada, tel. 613-997-2800.
The booklet points out that acid rain is caused by emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Once released into the atmosphere, these substances can be carried long distances by prevailing winds and return to Earth as acidic rain, snow, fog, or dust. The main sources of SO2 emissions in North America are coal-fired power generating stations and nonferrous ore smelters. The main sources of NOx emissions are vehicles and fuel combustion. From economical and environmental viewpoints, Canada believes acid rain is one of the most serious problems presently facing the country: increasing the acidity of more than 20% of Canada's 300,000 lakes to the point that aquatic life is depleted and acidity of soil water and shallow groundwater is increasing, causing decline in forest growth and water fowl populations, and eating away at buildings and monuments. Acid rain is endangering fisheries, tourism, agriculture, and forest resources in an area of 2.6 million km2 (one million square miles) of eastern Canada, about 8% of Canada's gross national product.