Acid rain is a problem that has plagued earth for years. It is poisoning our waters, animals, plants, soil, and more. It is a problem that can not be ignored or it might have catastrophic results on our environment. Acid rain is caused by air pollution, which is due to man-made actions.
Scientists have discovered that air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is the major cause of acid rain. Power plants and factories burn coal and oil, which is used to produce the electricity we need to heat and light our homes and to run our electric appliances. We also burn natural gas, coal, and oil to heat our homes, and our cars, trucks, boats, and airplanes use gasoline to run, which is another fossil fuel.
The smoke and fumes from burning fossil fuels rise into the atmosphere and combine with the moisture in the air to form acid rain. The main chemicals in air pollution that create acid rain are sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Acid rain usually forms high in the clouds where sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides react with water, oxygen, and oxidants. This forms a mild solution of sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Sunlight then increases the rate of these reactions. Rainwater, snow, fog, and other forms of precipitation containing those mild solutions of sulfuric and nitric acids fall to the earth as acid rain.
Acid rain is a much more complex problem then most people realize. Acid rain does not only drop dangerously high levels of acid into the ground directly affecting wildlife but it also mixes with other elements and compounds in the earth which then become harmful to the environment. For example aluminum is one of the most common metals on earth. It is stored in a combined form with other elements in the earth. When it is combined it cannot dissolve into the water and soil and harm the fish and plants. However the acid from acid rain can easily dissolve the bond between these elements. The Aluminum is then dissolved into a more soluble state by the acid. Other metals such as copper and iron are similarly affected however it is the aluminum that is the most common. In this form it is easily absorbed into the water. When it comes in contact with fish it causes irritation to the gills. This irritation in turn causes fish to create a film of mucus in the gills to stop this irritation until the irritant is gone. However the aluminum does not go always and the fish continues to build up more and more mucus to counteract it. Eventually there is so much mucus that it clogs the gills. When this occurs, the fish can no longer breath. It dies and then sinks to the bottom of the lake. Scientist predict that acid rain is one of the leading causes the possible extinction of fish. This does not only affect the fish in the water, it affects everything including humans. These lakes and streams are not just homes for aqualife but they are our sources of water too.