European Acid Rain Halved in 15 Years

Reduction largely brought about by switching electricity generation from oil and coal to less polluting gas and nuclear power, and by saving energy.

Published: 10-Jan-2002

Acid rain, one of the greatest pollution scourges of the last decade, is being rapidly reduced across Britain and Europe, a new official report reveals. It concludes that the acidity of rainfall in Britain has been cut in half over the past 15 years and that acidified lakes in Scandinavia are beginning to recover in what promises to be one of the most remarkable environmental success stories on record.

The report, by the National Expert Group on Transboundary Air Pollution, also shows that Britain - once both one of Europe's worst polluters and the most reluctant to clean up - has been in the lead in cutting its emissions.

Acid rain comes mainly from sulphur and nitrogen released by the burning of fossil fuels in power stations, industrial boilers and vehicle engines. The pollutants combine with water vapour, sunlight and oxygen to produce a dilute soup of sulphuric and nitric acid which then falls as rain, often hundreds of miles from where the pollutants were originally emitted.

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