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Name _________________

Period # ____

Date ____________

Acid Rain in the U.S.

Air Pollution Virtual Lab
Objectives: Define acid rain and describe its causes. Test the pH of rainwater samples and plot the
information on a map of the United States. Describe the relationship between the occurrences of acid rain
and sulfur dioxide emissions in the United States.
1. Access the following link:
2. Read the information on the left of the screen to answer the Prelab questions below.
3. Now that you know more about acid rain, you are ready to collect some data! Click a Test Tube Holder to
select a set of test tubes to test. Click a Test Tube to test the pH of the water sample.
4. Enter the state's pH value into the map. To do this, click a state, then click the color in the legend that
corresponds to the state's pH value. If you do not have a printer, record the pH values and SO2 values for each
state on the attached map. (Use the color key on the right side of the map to identify the pH of states that have
already been tested. There is no data for Alaska or Hawaii.)
5. Repeat steps 1-3 for all the states' rainwater samples then use your data to answer questions #7-12 below.
Prelab Questions:
1. What is acid rain? Rainfall that has a pH of 5.0 or lower

2. How is it formed? Moisture in clouds is filled with sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide

3. How does acid rain affect the environment? Over time it can cause our plants and animals to die
because the toxins are absorbed in the soil

4. Besides the effect on the environment, does acid rain has any other harmful effects? Yes it can cause
humans to get brain damage and kidney disease

5. What two air pollutants are associated with the formation of acid rain? Sulfur and Nitrogen

6. What are the sources of these air pollutants? Cars and Factories

Data Analysis:
7. According to your pH test result, where in the U.S. is acid rain most severe?
In the eastern part on the US

8. Sulfur dioxide is the main air pollutant associated with acid rain.

9. Which state in the U.S. release the most sulfur dioxide annually?
New York

10. Based on your analysis, is there a relationship between a state's sulfur dioxide emissions and the
average pH of its rain water? Yes

11. How might you explain the fact that Vermont and New Hampshire, states with very low sulfur dioxide
emission, experience acid levels that are among the most severe in the country? They are smaller cities
with a big population

12. Discuss at least three possible ways to reduce acid rain.

Reduce use of CFCs
Reduce CO2
Spread human population