Acid Rains Effects on Toombstones
There have been many studies on the effects of acid rain upon exposed objects now
for many years. I began studying those effects in the late 1970's. Acid rain is
produced by the sulfur content of the atmosphere mixing with the rain to make it
acidic. The coal used to fire the power plants to the west of our area as well as the
carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide produced from automobiles and machinery
have added to the problem. Many toombstones today are becoming illegible because
they are being eaten away by the acid in the rainfall. Even the bronze and brass flat
markers are showing signs of the erosion and corrosive effects of this acid rainfall.
For example: my parents gravestone is made of polished marble. It has been
exposed to the elements now for about thirteen years. The lettering is fading and
there are streaks down the stone that cannot be removed. This is due to the acid
rainfall. My grandparents stone was placed nearly 40 years ago in north Georgia and
has had to be replaced due to the erosive effects of the acid in the rain.
As this rainfall continues to fall and eats away at the stone and metal markers there
will come a time when it will be almost completely impossible to read the names of
those who are buried at many of the cemeteries in our area. This problem is not
getting any better and it will not change in the foreseeable future.
The people of the northeast Georgia Mountains and into North Carolina have also
seen the effects of this rainfall not only on the exposed structures but the plant life
as well. Many trees are being lost on top of the mountains because they are higher
up and catch more of the effects of the acidity of the rain. Many of the cemeteries
of that region have had to replace markers or cannot do so because of the cost
This is a problem that effects everyone whether it be your home, car, gravesite, or
about anything that is exposed to the harmful effects of the acid rain.