Acid Precipitation

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Sitting in your room late at night, you listen to the gentle pittter-patter of the rain on your window. Ahh, so soothing and relaxing. Have you ever really wondered what the rain is really made of? Is that just water or is it acid slowly streaming down out there? That rain you hear just might be acid rain, it could change the way you live your life.
The commonly used terms “acid rain” and “acid precipitation” describe specific forms of a type of pollution described generally as “acid deposition.” Harmful gases that rise into the air mix with cloud moisture, sunlight, and oxidants. There they chemically combine into dilute sulfuric and nitric acids, which fall back to the earth. This is acid deposition. The major contributing pollutants are sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide (Morgan, 5).
“Acid rain” is basically rainwater with a pH level lower than 5.6 (Morgan, 3). The term pH means “potential hydrogen”. When a substance has a pH level of 7, it is completely neutral with the same number of hydroxyl and hydrogen ions (Pringle, 6). Acidity in the atmosphere can be changed by many natural things. When a volcano erupts, sulfur dioxide is spewed out. Droughts produce unusually dry soil conditions allowing dust particles to be carried upward into the air, neutralizing the acids that may be present at the time (Pringle, 4). Acid Rain can come in concentrations sometimes more acidic than lemon juice. These pollutants reach the earth in rain, snow, hail, sleet, or fog. The rain at the beginning of a shower is usually more acidic than the rain that follows. Dry acidic particles can also fall from the atmosphere. Because wind can carry gases and moisture for hundreds of miles, even areas far away from the source bear the effects of acid deposition (Durham, 10). There are of course, many things that we as humans do everyday to promote and support the continuation of acid rain. Not intentionally, of course.
When the fossil fuel, (i.e. coal) is used, the sulfur in it mixes with Oxygen in the air to form sulfur dioxide. The sulfur dioxide is eventually turned into acid over a matter of days. Coal-fired power plants are the single greatest cause of acid rain in the United States. They account for two-thirds of all sulfur dioxide emissions in the US (Pringle 16; Morgan 75). In the mid-1980’s, the United states alon...

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...ain can aggravate a person's ability to breathe and may increase disease, which could lead to death (Bennet)
In conclusion, any rain with a pH level lower than 5.6 are classified as acid rain. Acid rain is made when sulfur dioxides mix with nitrogen oxides to form acids. The acids then can come back down out of the atmosphere in either a dry or a wet form. Both of these have proven devastating to both aquatic animals and forests. Billions of dollars have been spent to correct and try to fix what acid rain had done to buildings and monuments. Acid rain also has its toll on the health of us humans. The food you eat could be contaminated with toxins due to acid rain, you’d never know it either.

Bennet, Mark. “Acid Rain” 2-25-00. Online. Internet. 1-17-96 Available WWW:
Durham, Jack. Acid Rain: A Student’s First Sourcebook. Diane Publishing Co.: 1994.
Morgan, Sally. Acid Rain. Franklin Watts, Incorporated 1999.
Phamornsuwana, Sam. “Effects of Acid Rain” 2-24-00. Online. Internet. 1-5-99 Available WWW:
Pringle, Laurence. Rain of Troubles. Macmillan Publishing Co.: 1988.
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