Acid rain is becoming a growing problem in the world and especially in the United States and it is due to pollution in the air. It is causing destruction to statues and buildings as well as cars and other outside objects. Acid rain has also been linked to problems with wildlife populations and health. However, there are things that we can do to help control the problem and things that can be done to help prevent it.
Acid deposition, more commonly known as acid rain, occurs when emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and oxidants to form acidic compounds. This mixture forms a mild solution of sulfuric and nitric acid which then falls to the earth in either wet (rain, snow, sleet or fog) or dry (gas and particles) form. Approximately one-half of the atmosphere's acidity falls back to earth through dry deposition in the form of particles and gases, and are then spread hundreds of miles by winds where they settle on surfaces of buildings, cars, homes, and trees. When acid rain falls, the dry deposited gases and particles are sometimes washed from buildings, trees and other surfaces making the runoff water combine with the acid rain more acidic than the falling acid rain alone. This new combination is referred to as acid deposition. The runoff water is then transported by strong prevailing winds and public sewer systems into lakes and streams. Although some natural sources such as volcanic eruptions, fire and lightening contribute to the emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, more than 90% is the result of human activities such as coal burning, smelting of metals such as zinc, nickel and copper, and the burning of oil, coal and gas in power plants and automobiles.
Every day, factories, power plants, and even your cars emit dangerous chemicals into our atmosphere. When these chemicals mix with the moisture in our air, acid rain is produced. Acid rain falls onto lakes, rivers, fields, and forests destroying them. Acid rain is a serious environmental concern, however, it can be prevented.
Did you know that around fifty thousand lakes in the United States and Canada have a pH which is considered to be more acidic than normal? Hundreds of these lakes cannot even support aquatic life. Most people do not understand the danger that acid rain poses to our environment. It is time for everyone to open their eyes and not only see the terrible effects of acid rain, but to take steps to eliminate acid rain. Acid rain is a detrimental issue that needs to be stopped before it causes more damage to our environment.
Acid rain has a harmful impact on the environment which is a serious environmental problem that affects large parts of the United States and Canada. Acid rain is particularly damaging to lakes, streams, forests and the plants and animals that live in these ecosystems. Acid rain is referring to a mixture of wet and dry deposition from the atmosphere containing higher than normal amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. They are oxidized in the air until they are converted to sulfuric and nitric acids. These acids are then captured by raindrops which fall to the earth as acid precipitation. This process is called deposition. We know this as acid rain, but we can have acidic snow or hail and even acidic dust particles falling from the sky. It can occur in natural resources, such as volcanoes and decaying vegetation, and man-made sources, primarily of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides resulting from fossil fuel combustion.
Rain occurs nature as part of the water cycle, but sometimes rain can do more harm than good. Acid rain can causes damage to plants, animals, and even structures. Acid rain occurs naturally without human interference, but since humans started to make objects that contribute to the creation of acid rain, it happens more frequently than if humans would not be involved. People not only raised the amount of acid rain that falls, they can also be the ones to bring the amount back down to reasonable levels.
Acid rain has been proven to have damage forests, fresh waters and soils, killing insect and aquatic life-forms. It also causes damage to buildings and impacts on human health. Many people do not know what acid rain actually is. Acid rain is any form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, low pH levels, higher than normal amounts of sulfuric and nitric acid, occurs naturally and from man made sources. Forms when gases react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and other chemicals (what is acid rain?). The only water that will not have some amount of acidity is pure water. Pure water has a pH of 7 which is neutral; regular, unpolluted rain water has a pH of around 5.6. The acidity in rain water comes from the presence of Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxide, and Sulfur Dioxide. CO2 reacts with water to form carbonic acid. Nitrogen and water react during lightning storms, forming Nitric Oxide. NO is then oxidized to form N02. The NO2 reacts with water to form nitric acid. Due to this, the pH is lowered to be slightly acidic (Acid Rain). Acid rain can occur naturally in the environment, but the problem occurs when human interaction is the cause of the acidic levels.
The Damaging Effects of Acid Rain Modern society is becoming overwhelmed with great amounts of pollution from cars, factories and an overabundance of garbage. The immense amounts of sulphur dioxide emitted into the air causes high levels of acid in the atmosphere. When this sulphuric acid is absorbed into moisture in the air, poignant rainfalls can be damaging to the external environment. Acid rain is destroying the world=s lakes, air and ecosystem. Acid rain is killing lakes and decreasing the number of inhabitants in these fresh water bodies. Acid rain causes an ample deduction in the pH levels in the water. At a neutral level the pH in water should be close to seven, yet in these acidic water bodies the pH levels can be as low as four. These pH levels of four contain more than ten percent acids than that of normal rain and one thousand times more acid than neutral water. Each decade the pH levels of lakes around Ontario have become ten times more acidic. The high acid levels contained in lakes also causes a decrease in the number of fish dwelling in these lakes. Also Aacid produces chemical changes in the blood of the fish, and their basic body metabolism is altered@ (Howard & Perley, 1980, p. 24), and can cause deformities in these inhabitants. They have twisted and arched backbones, flattened heads and strangely curved tails. In pH levels of four there is little left in the lakes besides rock bass, pumpkinseed and lake herring. Affected fish are also in danger of becoming sterile, which would put the species at risk of becoming extinct. As with sulphur dioxide in rain, mercury is also discharged into the water. There is a direct connection between the mercury rich lakes as there is with those with high acidic levels. This metal becomes concentrated in the blood and tissues of fish. Acid rain causes traumatic effects in natural lakes and rivers. Acid rain causes air quality to deteriorate. As in water, acid rain causes the pH levels in the air to decrease. The sulphur dioxide, which diffuses into the air, mixes with moisture causing the pH levels to drop from the normal level. Again, the normal level is somewhere around seven, yet in some acidic air masses the levels can be as low as three. These lowered pH levels form a photochemical smog in the atmosphere.
Sulfates and nitrates that form in the atmosphere from sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions contribute to visibility impairment, meaning we cannot see as far or as clearly through the air. Sulfate particles account for 50 to 70 percent of the visibility reduction in the eastern part of the U.S. Acid rain looks, feels, and tastes just like clean rain. The harm to people from acid rain is not direct. Walking in acid rain, or even swimming in an acid lake, is no more dangerous than walking or swimming in clean water. However, the pollutants that cause acid rain do damage human health. These gases interact in the atmosphere to form fine sulfate and nitrate particles that can be transported long distances by winds and inhaled deep into people