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Policy Statement 285 - Acid Rain


Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on January 30, 2017 
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on June 5, 2017
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 29, 2017


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports continued control and reduction of the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the pollutants shown to contribute significantly to acid rain and other forms of acid precipitation. ASCE also supports further research into the control and mitigation of the sources, causes, and consequences of acid rain. 


Acid rain is recognized as a contributing factor to environmental problems in aquatic ecosystems, in groundwater systems, in forests, on farmlands, and in the deterioration of buildings, roads, bridges, monuments, and other structures.  


There are well-defined and significant environmental problems linked to acid rain. Acid rain has been linked to the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from combustion processes utilizing coal as a fuel. Carbon dioxide also contributes to increased acidity of rainfall, but produces lower concentrations than sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The reduction of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions represents positive action toward protecting the environment in areas subject to acid rain.  Technology is available to control these emissions at the stack or to process the fuel to remove sulfur prior to combustion. Low-sulfur coal also may be used. Nevertheless, there is a need for additional technological research to develop the most cost-effective controls for these pollutants.

This policy has worldwide application
ASCE Policy Statement 285 
First Approved in 1982