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KENTUCKY: In Cumberland State Park, located in the southern part of the state, acid deposition is leaching heavy metals into watersheds. Lake Nevin in the Bernheim Forest, which is close to the Kentucky-Indiana border, has detectable levels of lead.
NORTH CAROLINA-TENNESSEE: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which covers 509,000 acres in both states, is taking a battering. The beautiful blue haze that comes from lacquers and oils liberated from the forest canopy is rarely seen. Instead, visibility has been greatly reduced, obscured by an ugly gray haze composed of man-made particulates, mostly aluminum sulfates. After the Los Angeles basin, the western slope of the southern Appalachians, from Georgia north to Kentucky, has the highest frequency of air stagnation in the U.S.
The average pH of precipitation in the park has gone from 5.3 in 1955 to 4.4 in 1973 and 4.2 in 1980. In the spring, stream pH levels drop to as low as 4.3, and aluminum leaching is ongoing. In Beech Flats Creek zinc and aluminum have reached nearly toxic levels for fish, and rainbow trout in the park contained more than the permissible amount of mercury allowed for human consumption until the Food and Drug Administration raised the level from .5 parts per million to 1 in 1979. In lakes lying just outside the park boundary in North Carolina, smallmouth bass have abnormal backbones, generally associated with aluminum toxicity. Amphibians, particularly salamanders, are also threatened. The park contains the greatest diversity of salamanders in the world, including the Plethodontidae, the lungless salamanders that probably evolved in the region.
GEORGIA: Northeastern Georgia, extending from Raymond County to Pickens County, has low buffering capacity, according to state environmental officials. There have been reports of skeletal deformities in smallmouth bass in Lake Chatuga, a northern reservoir, and officials say there's some indication that these might be the effects of low pH.
FLORIDA: Acid precipitation threatens poorly buffered lakes in the sandy central highlands region that runs the length of the peninsula. According to Dr. P.L. Brezonik, water resources specialist formerly of the University of Florida and now at the University of Minnesota, the acidity of Florida rainfall has increased markedly in the last 25 years. The most acidic rains—with a pH of less than 4.7—fall on the northern two-thirds of the state.
MICHIGAN: Some 16,000 lakes of more than 10 acres each are considered susceptible to acid precipitation. More than half the 8,000 lakes and ponds in the Upper Peninsula have an alkalinity of only about 10 parts per million. The Keeweenaw Peninsula on Lake Superior receives one of the heaviest snowfalls in the U.S., averaging about 12 to 13 feet annually, and the median pH for snowfalls in the winter of 1977-78 was 4.5.
WISCONSIN: Twenty-six hundred lakes of more than 20 acres in size are considered very susceptible to acidification because they have a pH of 6 or less and little alkalinity.
MINNESOTA: The northern part of the state, particularly the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, is susceptible to acidification. In fact, the "Transboundary Air Pollution Interim Report," prepared last February by a group of American and Canadian scientists, noted that "Atmosphere load near the BWCAW is at levels associated with the onset of lake acidification in Scandinavian countries."
COLORADO: Acid precipitation is falling on the Rockies northwest of Denver. Drs. William M. Lewis Jr. and Michael C. Grant, environmental biologists at the University of Colorado, accidentally discovered this in 1975 while they were working in the university's mountain research station, 9,000 feet up at Como Creek, adjacent to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. In the four years from 1974 to '78 the pH of precipitation dropped at a rapid rate, from 5.4 to 5.0, to 4.8, to 4.7. Then, in August, Dr. John Harte of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory reported that small lakes and streams in the Elk Mountains near Crested Butte in western Colorado have very high levels of acid. Harte said that the pH of rain and snow in the area had sunk as low as 3.6 in some storms.