Acidic Deposition in the Northeastern United States


Acidic deposition is one of the environmental new class issues that are mostly witnessed in the areas in the developed countries. Charles (2001) defines acidic deposition as the transfer of strong acids and acid-forming materials from the atmosphere to earth surface.

The case study of the Northeastern United States

The pollution effect of the acidic deposition on aquatic ecosystems and forested landscapes is due to its corrosive components. These components include factory imitated gases such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), ammonia (NH3), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) plus other acidifying and neutralizing compounds. From 1900, the United States has experienced increased SO2 annual emissions from 9 million metric tons to 28.8 million metric tons in 1973 (Hill & Kaplan, 2004).

This acidic deposition adversely affected the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, in the New Hampshire’s White Mountain. Since the discovery of the acidic deposition in this area, in the 1960s, a lot has been done to mitigate the situation. As such, both the American government and environmental stakeholders have put in place policies to cut down on the amount of acidic gas emissions by the manufacturing industries. Moreover, the implementation of SO2 Control Act and 1990’s amendment of Clean Air Act have served a great purpose in reducing SO2 and NOx utility emissions (Charles et al., 2001).

The effects of these legislative remedies were reflected in the 1998 report that showed reduced SO2 emissions to 17.8 million metric tons. In an equal measure, the emissions of NOx also reduced during the same period. Thus, the overall effect was the decrease in the geographic area exposure to the elevated wet S deposition in excess of 25kg SO42-.ha-1.yr-1 (Charles et al., 2001). 


Even though the situation has not been totally cleared, there are substantial recoveries from the effects of this acidification. The control of the S and N emissions has resulted into gradual chemical recovery in both the Hubbard Brook Forest and the surrounding aquatic ecosystem. Additionally, sufficient chemical recovery is expected to facilitate the area’s biological recovery, where plants and animals are expected to survive and reproduce effectively. 

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