Acid Rain Exercise I environment Canada – Acid Rain faq section A: “What is pH?”

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Name: ______________________ Date: _____________________
Period: ____ IB Geography 12

Acid Rain Exercise

I) Environment Canada – Acid Rain FAQ

Section A: “What is pH?”

1) Clean rain water usually has a pH of ____.

2) A pH of 5.0 is how many times more acidic than a pH of 6.0?

Section B: “Where is acid rain a problem?”

1) Identify where acid rain is a problem in Canada and explain why?

2a) Why has much of Western Canada been spared from the ravages of acid rain?

b) What could change that?

Section C: “Where do sulphur dioxide emissions come from?”

1) Contrast the major source of SO2 emissions for Canada versus the United States.

2) More than _______ of the acid deposition in eastern Canada originates from emissions in the United States.

Section D: “Have SO2 emission levels changed at all?”

1) Between 1980 and 2001, SO2 emissions in eastern Canada declined by approximately ____%.

Further Updates (Source:

Figure 1: Canadian SO2 Emissions from Acid Rain Sources, 1980–2006

Source: Environment Canada, 2008

figure 1. canadian so2 emissions from acid rain sources, 1980–2006

Commitments and Progress: SO2 Emission Reductions


- In 2006, Canada’s total SO2 emissions were 2 million tonnes, or about 38 percent below the national cap of 3.2 million tonnes (Figure 1).

- SO2 reductions represent more than a 55-percent decrease from Canada’s total SO2 emissions in 1980 and a 35-percent decrease from the 1990 emission level.

- SO2 emissions in the seven easternmost provinces were 1.4 million tonnes in 2005, or nearly 40 percent below the (now expired) eastern Canada cap of 2.3 million tonnes.

- Canada is committed to further reducing acidifying emissions through the more recent Canada-wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post-2000.


- The United States succeeded in meeting its commitment to reduce annual SO2 emissions by 10 million tons from 1980 levels by 2000.

- In 2007, emissions of SO2 from the electric power sector fell below the 2010 national emission cap of 8.95 million tons for the first time, achieving the U.S. commitment three years early.

- National SO2 emissions from all sources have fallen from nearly 26 million tons in 1980 to less than 13 million tons in 2007 (see ).

- Most of the reductions in SO2 emissions are due to the Acid Rain Program (ARP), which requires major reductions of SO2 and NOX emissions from the electric power sector.

2) Using the figures below, describe the changes in annual wet sulphate deposition over time.

Note:Airborne pollutants are deposited on the Earth’s surface by three processes: (1) wet deposition (rain and snow), (2) dry deposition (particles and gases), and (3) deposition by cloud water and fog. Wet deposition is comparatively easy to measure using precipitation monitors, and the concentration of sulphate and nitrate in precipitation is regularly used to assess the changing atmosphere as it responds to decreasing or increasing sulphur and nitrogen

emissions.” Source: Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement – Progress Report 2010

Section E: “Where do NOx emissions come from?”

1) What is the major source of NOx emissions for both Canada and USA?

Section F: “Have NOx emission levels changed at all?”

1) Canada committed to cut annual NOx emissions from the Canadian transboundary region

(i.e. central and southern Ontario and Quebec) by about ____% from 1990 by 2010.

Further Updates (Source:

Commitments and Progress: NOX Emission Reductions

- Surpassed its NOX emission reduction target at power plants, major combustion sources, and metal smelting operations by 100,000 tonnes below the forecasted level of 970,000 tonnes.

- Recently passed stringent standards for NOX emissions from on-road and off-road sources, effective from 2004 to 2009.


- Emissions of NOX from all NOX program-affected units were 3 million tons, and total NOX emissions from all sources covered by the ARP were 3.3 million tons (Figure 3).

- This level is 4.8 million tons less than the projected NOX levels for 2000 without the ARP, or more than double the NOX emission reduction goal under the Acid Rain Annex.

2) Using the figures below, describe the changes in annual wet nitrate deposition over time.

Section G: “What is the difference between a target load and a critical load?”

1) Define critical load.

2) Why do critical loads vary across Canada?

3a) Define target load.

b) Under the Eastern Canada Acid Rain Program, a target load of 20 kg per hectare per year of wet sulphate deposition was set. Why that figure?

4) Under the Canada-Wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post-2000, signed in 1998, governments in Canada have set what long-term goal?

Section H: “Would acid rain remain a problem without further controls?”

1) Without further controls beyond those in the 1991 Canada-US Air Quality Agreement, how many lakes would remain damaged by acid rain in eastern Canada?

Section I: “Water”

1) When do mass fish mortalities typically occur due to acid? Explain.

2) Beyond potential premature death, summarize the impacts of acidified water on fish.

3) Summarize the effects of water pH approaching less than 5.0.

Section J: “Are the lakes recovering?”

1) Summarize what the scientific studies are revealing.

2) What pH level is considered the most appropriate criterion for calculating critical loads?

Section K: “Forests”

1) Summarize the effects of acid rain on forests?

2) If current levels of acid rain continue in the future, the growth and productivity of about ____% of Canada’s eastern boreal forests will be negatively affected.

Section L: “Air Quality”

1) What are the connections between the acid rain issue and other air pollution problems?

Section M: “Your Health”

1) What are the health effects of particulate matter (eg sulphate particles)?

2) Outline the health and economic benefits from a 50% cut in SO2 emissions.

Section N: “Case Studies”

1) What has been the primary reason for the dramatic chemical improvements in Sudbury area lakes ?

II) Canada • United States Air Quality Agreement – Progress Report 2010

- Read the introduction below and the answer the questions that follow.

1) When was the Air Quality Agreement signed between Canada and the United States?

2) As of 2008, Canada’s SO2 emissions have decreased by _____% from 1990 levels while the US has decreased its SO2 emissions by ____% from 1990 levels.
3) Ground-level ozone is a key component of __________.
4) Between 2000 and 2008, Canada’s NOx emissions in the transboundary ozone region** decreased by ______% while the US decreased its NOx emissions by ____% in the region.

**Note: The Ozone [ground-level] Annex [added in 2000 to the Can./US Air Quality Agreement], for the first time, defines a Pollutant Emission Management Area or transboundary ozone regionIn Canada, the region is the area of Ontario and Quebec from which there can be or is transboundary pollution flow that contributes to ozone in the United States.  Over 50% of Canada’s population lives in this region.  In the U.S., the region includes all of the 18 states and the District of Columbia that are within 500 kilometres of the border with eastern Canada, and within which about 40% of the U.S.’s population resides.

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