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New study says tar sands emissions could acidify area the size of Germany

A comprehensive new study says acid emissions from the tar sands could eventually acidify an area the size of Germany.

As reported by Global News, “the study finds that in 2013 more than 330,000 square kilometres in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan absorbed acid deposits high enough to eventually damage life in rivers and lakes.”

“This work is a warning,” said Paul Makar, an Environment Canada scientist and lead author on the paper published in the Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

The research involved scientists at Environment Canada as well as their provincial counterparts in Alberta and Saskatchewan and from Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.

The scientists looked at 90,000 lakes to determine how different water bodies responded to acids and at what point they would no longer be able to buffer them. That data was used to create a map of carrying capacities across a large area in the northern parts of prairie provinces.

“If those emissions levels continue, there will be ecosystem damage for aquatic ecosystems over an area that’s about the size of Germany,” Makar said.

The study concluded that if emissions continue at the level studied, tree growth would be stunted, water plants would suffer from increased toxins, fish and the bugs they prey on would get sick and reproduce less easily.