Acid in the Air Returns to the Same Levels of a Century...

Acid in the Air Returns to the Same Levels of a Century Ago

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New research indicates atmospheric acidity levels have almost returned to a low similar to those of the 1930s.

Commencing shortly after the Great Depression, large scale industrial production pumped significant amounts of pollution into the earth’s atmosphere.

Since levels of pollution only continued to increase leading into 1950s – as vehicle ownership became less of a luxury and more of a necessity – the American lifestyle found itself wearing the shoes of an increasingly large carbon footprint. By the 1960s, atmospheric pollution had reached the apex of its trendline.

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Gluttony and disregard were turning the earth into a large scale science project about corrosive reactions from acid.

Those increasing levels miraculously began downtrending when the US government enacted the Clean Air Act in 1970. University of Copenhagen scientists were able to notice the change in acidity thanks to a newly-developed method called “continuous flow analysis.”

CFA works by “directly measur[ing] the acidity of the ice using a spectrometer,” said Helle Astrid, postdoc in the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute, UCPH.

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“You can also measure the acidity [of melted ice core runoff], that is to say, we measure the pH value and this is seen when the water changes color after the addition of a pH dye,” states Kjær.

This new method allows acidity levels in the past 100 years to be measured, something that was previously unattainable due to the the porous nature of more recently formed ice core samples.

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The findings of Kjær and other researchers has allowed for a more precise and current timeline of atmospheric acidity, the analysis of which has proven the effectiveness of both pollutant filtration systems and legislative regulation of dirty production methods. Perhaps when moving forward, these findings will influence industries to give more regard for the environment, and the earth that they inhabit.

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