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Additional info for Going Sour: Science and Politics of Acid Rain

Example text

The reaction rate is re1ative1y slow, however, and this pathway is now thought to account for a minor fraction of the acid sulfate formed in the atmosphere. The relative importance of the above pathways will depend on many factors, inc1uding the ratio of NO x to hydrocarbons in the air, the availability of sunlight, the humidity, and the presence of other pollutants. Overall, the conversion of S02 to acid is complete within several hours to several days, while NO x is probably converted to acid within hours.

Clearly, this pollution is transported from the East Coast. 7 3 55 56 THE SCiENCE OFACID RAIN Satellite photos reveal that acid haze can travel a thousand miles or more,74 It has been argued that satellite photos do not rule out the possibility that a blob of haze may be continually renewed as it moves across the country, depositing and picking up pollution as it trave1s. However, acid sulfate haze is known from field and laboratory studies to be able to remain aloft for days, ample time to be transported hundreds of miles, and the haze remains intact even when it trave1s over areas with low emissions (see Plate TI).

Rainfall in upstate New York contains twice as much acidity, sulfate, and nitrate as rain from S. Carolina, and nearly ten times as much of these pollutants as rain from Oregon. Note that the overall acidity of rain (the concentration of hydrogen ions) is roughly equal to the sum of the ions derived from acids (sulfate plus nitrate) minus the ions derived from bases (ammonium, calcium, and' magnesium) . Distribution of Acid Rain Eastern N. America and w. Europe: The most acidie precipitation in the world falls on eastern North America and western Europe.

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