Acid Rain

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Acid Rain

Fossil fuels are a major part of our society today. With the start of the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuels became a very vital source in our day to day lives. Without fossil fuels our lives would be difficult-we would not be able to have cars, electricity, heat, and many other objects we use on a daily basis. Although fossil fuels are beneficial to us, fossil fuels possess a negative side effect. Fossil fuels have contributed to many environmental concerns. One of the most hazardous concerns caused by fossil fuels is acid rain. Until taking EGEE 101, I was unaware of this concern and did not know the harmful damages that acid rain causes. Therefore, I wanted to understand more about acid rain and know exactly what it is and where it comes from.

Acid rain is considered precipitation in the form of rain, snow, or fog. It is not regular precipitation though; it is precipitation that is polluted by acid. Emissions of sulfur dioxide (SOx) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) into the atmosphere cause this precipitation to become acidic. These emissions are released into the atmosphere by human activity, such as automobiles, industries, and electrical power plants that burn fossil fuels like coal and oil. When these gases are released, they mix with water vapor in the clouds and form sulfuric and nitric acids (Acid Rain Encyclopedia Britannica 2005). When sulfuric and nitric acids are released into the atmosphere, they travel long distances by winds before falling back to earth as acid precipitation. This causes a problem when the environment cannot neutralize the acid in such large amounts (Acid Rain and The Facts 2005).

An acid is a substance distinguished by its ability to react with a base (Acid Rain and The Facts 2005). Therefore this form of precipitation is named acid rain is because it has a high acidity according to the pH scale. The pH scale is a system of measurement to measure “the amount of acid in a liquid-like water.” Acids release hydrogen ions, and the acid content of a solution is based on the concentration of hydrogen ions and therefore shown as pH (Acid Rain Encyclopedia Britannica 2005).

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