How to Take Action to Reduce Acid Rain

Three Parts:Reducing Your Fossil Fuel ConsumptionUsing Alternative Energy and TransportationEncouraging and Educating Others

Acid rain, which is more accurately called acid deposition, refers to wet and dry atmospheric deposits that contain higher levels of acid than normal, and it can include wet precipitation like rain, snow, and fog, but also dry deposition, such as acidic smoke and dust.[1] While acid rain is a particular problem in North America and a few European countries, it’s still a global problem because the pollutants that cause it can be carried long distances by the wind. Although acid rain may seem like a scary problem that you can’t do anything about, there are changes you can make in your daily life to improve the situation, and most of it has to do with your choices as a consumer. But another important role you can play is as an educator, teaching others about acid rain and what they can do as well to be part of the solution.

Part 1
Reducing Your Fossil Fuel Consumption

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    Turn it off! While natural phenomena like volcanic eruptions can account for some acid deposition, the major cause is fossil fuel consumption, which we use for things like energy generation, heating, and transportation.[2] To reduce acid deposition then, you can help by turning off lights, appliances, electronics, and other devices whenever you aren’t using them, and only use the energy you need, when you need it.
    • Even when they’re turned off, electronic devices still consume trace amounts of power.[3] When you leave the house for the day or an extended period of time, turn off and unplug your electronic devices and appliances.
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    Use your appliances less. A large portion of acid rain emissions can be attributed to power generation. This means anytime you use power that comes from gas or coal, you are unwittingly contributing to acid rain.[4] Thankfully, you can mitigate this impact by using less power, which you can accomplish by:
    • Hanging clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.
    • Washing clothes and dishes by hand instead of in the washing machine or dish washer.
    • Reading a book instead of watching television or playing on the computer.
    • Cooking multiple meals or multiple batches of food at a time.
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    Switch your old appliances for energy-efficient ones. When it’s time to replace older appliances—such as the refrigerator, washer, dryer, furnace, air conditioner, and dish washer—upgrade to energy-efficient ones. Energy-efficient appliances will mean more money in your pocket and less acid rain in the water. And don’t forget to replace burnt out incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights.[5]
    • Look for the Energy Star logo on products, which ensures that the product you’re buying is energy-efficient.[6]
    • Purchase new appliances based on your household needs. For instance, when it’s time to replace your furnace or air conditioner, buy one that’s been sized properly for the space you need to heat or cool.
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    Switch out gas-powered gadgets for electric ones. Moving away from gas appliances and machines is a very direct way that you can help reduce acid rain. Gas-powered devices you might find around the house or garage include:
    • Snow blowers
    • Lawn mowers
    • Chainsaws
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    Insulate your home. Reducing energy use can be accomplished by preventing heat and cold from escaping, and you can do this by adding extra insulation between walls, insulating the attic and basement or crawl space, and putting caulking or weather stripping around windows and doors.[7]
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    Change your thermostat. A programmable thermostat can save you tons of money and energy in the long run. Put it on a timer so that the heat or air-conditioning don’t run when nobody is home, and turn off when everyone is sleeping.
    • Set your thermostat to 68 F (20 C) in the winter and 72 F (22.2 C) in summer so that your furnace and air conditioner don’t have to work as hard.[8]
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    Use windows wisely. While windows are great for letting in light and fresh air, you shouldn’t open them when climate control is on. You can also use drapes and blinds to keep out extra heat from the sun on hot summer days and cold air from outside on cool winter nights.
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    Shop locally. Trucks, planes, cars, trains, and boats that are powered by fossil fuels are a huge contributor to the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that cause acid deposition.[9] By shopping locally at markets and stores that source their products nearby, you can reduce the transportation-related acid rain emissions being released into the atmosphere.
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    Plant a garden. Not only is it great to add plants and trees to the planet that will help absorb carbon dioxide, but growing your own food will also further reduce your reliance on the fossil fuels associated with food transportation.
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    Drive conscientiously. Not everyone can afford an electric car, but you can change your driving habits to use less fuel. Green driving habits include things like:
    • Keeping the air pressure in your tires at the proper level.
    • Braking and accelerating gradually.
    • Using the air-conditioning sparingly. Roll down the windows instead to conserve gas.[10]
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    Say no to plastic. A significant portion of fossil fuel consumption can be traced to the manufacturing of chemicals, rubber, and plastics.[11] To reduce your reliance on plastics, don’t buy bottled water, invest in reusable shopping bags, purchase food items in bulk, opt for items that are packaged in glass instead of plastic, and support companies that limit their packaging.

Part 2
Using Alternative Energy and Transportation

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    Switch your energy provider. The majority of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels—in the form of natural gas, coal, and oil—but there are companies out there that focus exclusively on providing customers with energy from renewable sources. Renewable energies include:[12]
    • Nuclear
    • Hydropower
    • Solar and wind
    • Geothermal
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    Install solar panels or a small wind turbine. While it may not be possible for you to switch to a green energy provider, you can still reduce your reliance on energy-related fossil fuels. There are small wind turbines that can be installed in a backyard that will generate electricity for personal use, or you can install solar panels on your roof.
    • If you set up a grid-tied energy production system, you can still use energy from your regular power supplier when necessary, but they may pay you for excess energy you put back into the system!
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    Drive a different car. This is a much pricier option, but if you can trade in your car for an electric, hybrid, or low-emission car, you can reduce your fossil fuel use and help reduce acid rain.[13]
    • Another option that is cheaper than buying a new car is converting your existing gas tank to propane, for while it is still a fossil fuel, it doesn’t emit the same acid-rain-causing pollutants.[14]
    • If it’s not feasible for you to buy a new car or convert yours to propane, you can still help by maintaining your car properly and making sure it’s functioning as it should, and not burning oil or releasing emissions it shouldn’t be.
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    Use your car less. Regardless of what kind of car you drive, using less fuel and less energy (especially if your car is electric but your power comes from fossil fuels) is beneficial. There are plenty of public transit options available in many cities, including buses and trains. Or, consider starting a carpool group with people you work or travel with often.[15]
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    Use your feet more. You can completely eliminate your need for transportation-related emissions by getting around on foot, a bike, rollerblades, or even a skateboard. Let your own body power your movements, and your health and the environment will appreciate the effort.

Part 3
Encouraging and Educating Others

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    Write to industry leaders and government. Let your government know how you feel about acid rain, and tell them if you think they should be doing more. You can even petition industry leaders and business owners if you feel they could be doing a better job of cleaning up their acts. For industries that do contribute lots of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere, explain to them and governments that regulate them that they can:[16]
    • Use chemical scrubbers to remove pollutants from their smokestacks.
    • Seek out alternative fuels.
    • Switch to green technologies that don’t require fossil fuels.
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    Get your family involved. Tell them why this issue is important to you and why it should be important to them by explaining what kinds of impacts acid rain can have on the environment and our future.
    • Ask family to adopt the same eco-friendly chore practices that you’ve taken on, such as reducing energy consumption, replacing lightbulbs with CFLs, and reducing the use of electronics and appliances.
    • When it comes to transportation, explain how their pocketbooks (and waistlines) can benefit from being more active and using the car less.
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    Inform others. Explain to anyone who’s willing to listen, including friends, coworkers, and schoolmates, that acid rain damages lakes, streams, soils, forests, and the plants and animals that live in those ecosystems. Tell them that acid deposition also causes the premature decay of buildings, homes, and works of art, and has a negative impact on human health and animal life.
    • Tell other people about the steps you’ve taken to reduce acid rain, and show them how easy it can be for them to adopt some of those same practices.[17]


  • Do not burn rubbish because it produces the chemicals that contribute to acid rain.
  • Try to buy fewer mass-produced items, or seek out companies with eco-friendly practices.

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