The world we live in today has become a nest for pollution, toxic waste and environmental deterioration. In order to improve our planet, acid rain is a main factor to be considered and must be controlled before the damage worsens.
In order to understand what acid rain is, we must first understand the term “acidity”. Acidic is a way to describe chemical compounds and it is measured on the pH scale, a logarithmic measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) in precipitation (1). This scale is numbered 0 to 14, where substances with values below 7 are considered acidic and the ones above 7 are basic. Pure rain has a pH between 5.6 and 5.7; therefore, any acid precipitation with a pH below 5.6 presents concerns (3).
Rain itself tends to contain acidity, caused by the rain’s reaction to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and by the natural phenomena such as volcano eruptions and fires, nonetheless, the degree of acidity in the rain caused by nature, is digested by the rainfall and is not sufficient to cause damages to our environment. Therefore, acid rain is rain that has been made acidic not by nature, but by man-kind oxide pollutants such as sulfuric dioxides (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are the results of power plants that perform fossil fuel combustion and are also the result of exhaust from the motor vehicles. These particles react with the moisture in the air to produce precipitation of new chemical properties such as sulfuric acid and nitric acid, which are two major components of acid rain (3).
These acidic particles are dropped through acid deposition that falls from the atmosphere in the form of either wet or dry. Wet deposition is visible precipitation that can take the form of acid snow, sleet, hail, and fog; however, acid rain is the general term used to identify the problem. Dry deposition is invisible and can take the form of fly ash, sulfates, nitrates, and gases, dust particles. Both forms are carried by wind and can ultimately contaminate our air, our plants, our animals, and our water (2) (See Appendix A).
This paper will mainly focus on the effects of acid on various aspects of the planet. These effects include surface waters and aquatic animals, forests, automotive coatings, materials (metals, limestone, etc…), visibility and human health. This paper will also discuss the societal changes and actions one may take to reduce the danger of acid rain.
Effects of Acid Rain
Acid rain affects many facets of the earth including surface waters, aquatic animals, forests, automotive coatings, several materials (metals, paint, limestone, etc…), visibility and human health.
Surface waters and aquatic animals
It is important to note that acid rain’s effects on lakes and aquatic organisms vary widely. In some regions lakes may have an excessive amount of sensitivity when exposed to acidic deposition, thus, the ecosystem and species will eventually be destroyed. However, in other regions, some lakes may have a...