Acid Rain

INTRODUCTION: The dictionary definition of acid rain is “’rainfall made so acidic by atmospheric pollution that it causes environmental harm, chiefly to forests and lakes. The main cause is the industrial burning of coal and other fossil fuels, the waste gases from which contain sulphur and nitrogen oxides which combine with atmospheric water to form acids.” In Northern Europe and North America millions of trees have died because of the causes of acid rain. Some lakes contain so much acid that all the fish have died and the birds that relied on this fish for food have left. Acid rain also speeds up the rusting of iron and building made of marble, limestone and concrete have been severely affected. It is because of these reasons that acid rain is a big issue in today’s society.
CAUSES: Normal rain is usually slightly because of carbon dioxide in the air dissolves in rain to form carbonic acid, as in the equation: Carbon Dioxide + Water = Carbonic Acid. However large amounts of waste gases from industry and motor vehicles are making rain much more acidic than normal. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) dissolves in rainwater, like carbon dioxide, to form sulphurous acid. It also reacts with oxygen in the air to form sulphurous trioxide (SO3), which dissolves in rainwater as well to form sulphuric acid. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) does all of these things as well. Power stations produce these gases as waste and as these gases mix with the air and the rain water it forms acid rain that when it falls to earth it harms our environment. The sulphur dioxide from factories and the nitrogen dioxide from car exhausts are to blame for the acid rain. Acid rain can be written in the equation: Water + Oxygen + sulphur dioxide = Sulphuric acid or (H2O + O2 + SO2 =...

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Stannard, P., Williamson, K., Dent, C., Hagen, B. and Prasad, G. (2001). ScienceWorld. 1st ed. South Melbourne: Macmillan Education Australia.

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