You are on page 1of 5

Introduction Acid rain is rain consisting of water droplets that are unusually acidic because of atmospheric pollution - most

notably the excessive amounts of sulfur and nitrogen released by cars and industrial processes. Acid rain is also called acid deposition because this term includes other forms of acidic precipitation such as snow. Acidic deposition occurs in two ways: wet and dry. Wet deposition is any form of precipitation that removes acids from the atmosphere and deposits them on the Earth’s surface. Dry deposition polluting particles and gases stick to the ground via dust and smoke in the absence of precipitation. This form of deposition is dangerous however because precipitation can eventually wash pollutants into streams, lakes, and rivers. Acidity itself is determined based on the pH level of the water droplets. PH is the scale measuring the amount of acid in the water and liquid. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with lower pH being more acidic while a high pH is alkaline; seven is neutral. Normal rain water is slightly acidic and has a pH range of 5.3-6.0. Acid deposition is anything below that scale. It is also important to note that the pH scale is logarithmic and each whole number on the scale represents a 10-fold change. Today, acid deposition is present in the northeastern United States, southeastern Canada, and much of Europe including portions of Sweden, Norway, and Germany. In addition, parts of South Asia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Southern India are all in danger of being impacted by acid deposition in the future.

Causes and History of Acid Rain
Acid deposition can occur via natural sources like volcanoes but it is mainly caused by the release of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide during fossil fuel combustion. When these gases are discharged into the atmosphere they react with the water, oxygen, and other gases already present there to form sulfuric acid, ammonium nitrate, and nitric acid. These acids then disperse over large areas because of wind patterns and fall back to the ground as acid rain or other forms of precipitation. The gases responsible for acid deposition are normally a byproduct of electric power generation and the burning of coal. As such, it began entering the atmosphere in large amounts during the Industrial Revolution and was first discovered by a Scottish chemist, Robert Angus Smith, in 1852. In that year, he discovered the relationship between acid rain and atmospheric pollution in Manchester, England. Although it was discovered in the 1800s, acid deposition did not gain significant public attention until the 1960s and the term acid rain was coined in 1972. Public attention further increased in the 1970s when the New York Times published reports about problems occurring in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire.

8. it makes them vulnerable to disease. its plants and animals risk death and it is estimated that around 50. acid deposition can significantly impact forests. railroad tracks. . alternative energy sources are gaining more prominence today and funding is being given to the restoration of ecosystems damaged by acid rain worldwide. As acid lands on buildings (especially those constructed with limestone) it reacts with minerals in the stones sometimes causing it to disintegrate and wash away. while 30% in Switzerland have been affected. and streams. and insects. What's Being Done? Because of these problems and the adverse effects air pollution has on human health.000 lakes in the United States and Canada have a pH below normal (about 5. but the most advanced cases are in Eastern Europe. extreme weather. and stunt their growth. Trees at high altitudes are also susceptible to problems induced by acidic cloud cover as the moisture in the clouds blankets them. Acid deposition can also corrode modern buildings. steel bridges. rivers. there are several important impacts of acid deposition on both natural and man-made environments. many governments are now requiring energy producers to clean smoke stacks by using scrubbers which trap pollutants before they are released into the atmosphere and catalytic converters in cars to reduce their emissions. fields. and roads and flows into lakes. and can sometimes cause a calcium deficiency. cars. Aside from aquatic bodies. it is diluted but over time. a number of steps are being taken to reduce sulfur and nitrogen emissions. Most notably. and pipes above and below ground. it can make them lose their leaves. kills microorganisms in the soil. Acid falling on a forest’s soil is also harmful because it disrupts soil nutrients. Damage to forests by acid rain is seen all over the world. If the pH of a lake drops below 4. Several hundred of these have a pH too low to support any aquatic life.Effects of Acid Rain After studying the Hubbard Brook Forest and other areas today. As acid rain falls on trees. damage their bark. half of the forests are damaged. By damaging these parts of the tree. Both dry and wet deposition also runs off of forests. acid deposition also has an impact on architecture and art because of its ability to corrode certain materials. acids can accrue and lower the overall pH of the body. Acid deposition also causes clay soils to release aluminum and magnesium further lowering the pH in some areas. airplanes. As this acidic liquid flows into larger bodies of water. It’s estimated that in Germany and Poland. Aquatic settings are the most clearly impacted by acid deposition though because acidic precipitation falls directly into them.3 for water). Finally. Additionally.

when acid rain falls on some soils. it leaches out valuable nutrients that are found in the soil. This has caused the disappearance of some fish like brook trout from streams in the eastern U. The effects of acid rain and snow have been widely seen throughout Appalachian Mountains. fog or snow. (Note: The more acids found in rain. an entire forest can be killed off by acid rain. The pH scale goes from 0 to 14. and are often surrounded by acid fog and clouds.many fish eggs can't survive at pH lower than 5. However. including Germany's famous Black Forest and the high-altitude forests throughout Scandinavia. the resulting acids can wreak havoc on plant and animal life. and agricultural land is now amended with lime and other fertilizers to buffer the effect of acid rain. or -. including the Great Smoky Mountains. This process may take place locally. and when that condensation falls as rain. leaving behind aluminum and other elements that can be toxic to plant life. Trees are especially vulnerable at higher altitude.Are SO2 and NOx the causes of acid rain? Indirectly. When acids from rain and snow enter rivers and lakes. is far more acidic than a pH of 6. the acid in rain and snow is strong enough to erode rock -. When acid rain or snow falls on forest floors.an alkaline soil can help buffer the effects of acid rain and reduce its impact on local lakes.) What are the effects of acid rain? The effects of acid rain can vary depending on where it falls and what the local rock and soil is composed of -. When SO2 and NOx enter the atmosphere. the acids can wipe out important microbes and insects that live in soil and leaf litter. Thus. for example. they react with water vapor. the Adirondack Mountains and the Catskills in New York.S. amphibians and other aquatic wildlife are also killed off by acid rain. However. the trees slowly die from lack of food and from soil toxins -. where acid rain is more prevalent than in western states. These acids lower the pH of water condensation in the atmosphere. . oxygen and other compounds to form sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Many forests in Europe.centuries-old buildings..eventually. clams. Can acid rain affect humans? The amount of acid in rain is too small to have a serious impact on human health. Values from 0 to 6 are considered acid.when winds blow emissions hundreds of miles away -. the lower the pH. Crayfish. and values from 8 to 14 are considered alkaline. it can kill fish and their eggs -. yes. are also in peril due to acid rain and snow. What about the effect of acid rain on forests? Trees are among the most visible victims of acid rain (see the photo above).across international or state boundaries. since they receive more rain and snow. A pH of 1. 7 is considered neutral.

Since the single largest source of acid rain and snow is coal-powered electrical plants. Until that time.Measuring Precipitation The Hydrologic Cycle . Smokestack scrubbers that reduce emissions from coal-generated power plants have helped. wildlife and historical buildings and monuments.. sources of acid rain are difficult to manage. • • • acid rain .The Environment for Ki. What can we do about acid rain? Though much has been done to reduce the impact of acid rain.about.com/od/scienceandtechnology/a/Acid-Rain. People who are concerned about acid rain can start by saving electricity in their homes. acid rain will continue to destroy trees..htm https://sites. however. especially as rapidly developing countries in Asia and South America rely heavily on coal and oil for energy.com/site/acidrain1project/ .definition of the aquarium term acid rain How Salicylic Acid Treats Acne Video Acid Rain . developing alternative sources of energy becomes more important than ever.The Water Goes Around and Around Aquifers Related Articles • Acid Rain • Acid Rain — Our Struggling Lakes and Forests . Suggested Reading • • • Precipitation .google. their benefits have been limited.Nature for Kids Website refered http://greenliving.monuments and statues made of marble. forests. much more needs to be accomplished. improving their gas mileage and taking other steps to save energy and reduce our dependence on the fossil fuels that cause acid rain. limestone or other rock are slowly eroding away due to the effects of acid rain. And though international treaties have been signed and implemented throughout Europe and North America. but with millions of sources like auto tailpipe emissions.

It was observed that the proportion of birds laying defective eggs rose from roughly 10% in 1983-84 to 40% by 1987-88. the snails could not survive in the area.epa.html LEARNING OBJECTIVES Students will be able to: Define acid rain Explain the cause of acid rain Explain the effects of acid rain on vegetation Explain the effects of acid rain on water Explain the effects of acid rain on man-made objects Explain the effects of acid rain on humans Describe what can be done to solve the acid rain problem Effects of Acidity on Plants and Animals As a first example of the effects of acid rain. tree nesting birds. The birds began to eat the chicken egg shells. The difference between areas of normal soil pH (buffered by high calcium content due to limestone and marble outcrops and bedrock) and those with acidic soil appeared to be the presence of snails. To test the hypothesis that the lack of calcium was the cause of the bird's laying defective eggs.http://www. which resulted in eggs failing to hatch because of shell breakage and desiccation. at first. where a poor source of calcium. It was also observed that these effects were limited to areas of acid rain. appear to be affected. The defective eggs had thin and highly porous egg shells. With much of the CaCO3 leached out of the soil by the acid precipitation. ecologists "salted" the area with chicken egg shell fragments. In this case. because they continued to eat spiders and insects which. the food chain was examined (these birds are positioned at the upper part of the local food chain). As a result. . while supplying a sufficiently nutritious diet for the birds.effects on non-aquatic. Since the birds did not appear to be directly affected by the acidity. The snails depend on the soil as their calcium source as they secrete their shells. we can examine a case which is not obvious . there was also a high proportion of empty nests and clutch desertion.gov/acidrain/education/site_students/whatcauses. acid precipitation had affects that passed on up the food chain. and those that did laid normal eggs. The birds did not. This study was carried out in the Netherlands.