Humans are one of the species that tolerate acid rains quite well. Unlike mayflies and trees, we can hardly notice any acid in the rain. People also experience no discomfort swimming in the acid lakes, as opposed to fish and amphibians. However, high levels of sulfates and nitrates particles in the air trigger a range of conditions in humans. Inhaling these particles, we increase the risk of heart attack or lung dysfunction.
Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are common air pollutants alongside ozone and carbon monoxide. Most humans usually breathe the mixture of those particles, but in areas where acid rains are frequent, the first two gases prevail in the air. The National Institute of Health indicates that human exposure to sulfur dioxide changes the airway physiology, which brings asthma, bronchitis, or pulmonary disease. The combination of sulfur with other particles can exacerbate the existing heart disease. Nitrogen oxides make a similar effect, especially on children, elderly, or asthmatic people. Combined with ammonia, the gas damages lung tissue.
Nitrogen oxides usually trigger the formation of ozone and photochemical oxidants. A key component of smog, ozone irritates the lungs. Children and young adults are more susceptible to damage than older people. Eye, nose, and throat irritation come naturally as people breathe the air saturated with ozone and its compounds.
Air pollution associated with acid rains brings primary lung health concerns. It is difficult to cope with the pollution as it already occurs, therefore the US Environmental Protection Agency has initiated air quality standards for industries to take into account.