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60 percent reduction in acidity of Delaware rain

May 12, 2012
"It's one of the largest, longest continual records in the whole country, and the data shows pretty dramatically that the legislation is working."
- Joseph Scudlark, assistant director of the School of Marine Science and Policy in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment

Several decades ago, precipitation in Delaware was among the most acidic in the country. Pollutants in the air reacted with rainwater to sprinkle sulfuric, nitric and carbonic acids onto the ground below, affecting crops and ecosystems statewide.

The scientific consensus is that pollution controls enacted through the Clean Air Act Amendments in the 1990s and other measures have helped decrease the acidity of rain by approximately 60 percent to less harmful levels, as reflected in data gathered nationwide and by UD researchers in Lewes, Del., as part of a longstanding study.

"Every time it's rained since 1978, we've collected and analyzed samples," said Joseph Scudlark, assistant director of the School of Marine Science and Policy in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. "It's one of the largest, longest continual records in the whole country, and the data shows pretty dramatically that the legislation is working."

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