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Effects of Acid Rain on People

Acid rain looks, feels, and tastes just like clean rain. The harm to people from acid rain is not direct. Walking in acid rain, or even swimming in an acid lake, is no more dangerous than walking or swimming in clean water. The air pollution that causes acid rain is more damaging to human health. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the major sources of acid rain, can irritate or even damage our lungs.

The pollutants that cause acid rain can also reduce visibility -- limiting how far into the distance we can see.

The primary pollutants associated with acid rain and poor visibility are human-made sulfur dioxide emissions. These emisisons form small sulfate particles, or aerosols, in the atmosphere. These aerosols reduce visibility by scattering light. Sulfate aerosols are the main cause of poor visibility in the eastern United States.

Nitrogen oxide emissions are also associated with the acid rain problem. They, too, can form aerosols in the atmosphere that significantly reduce visibility. Nitrate aerosols are often the main cause for poor visibility in the western United States where sulfur dioxide emissions and humidity are lower than in the east. EPA Page: people