Acid Rain

My first question is , “What is Acid Rain?” You hear about it all the time
in the news and it is very important to the earths ecosystem. In simple
terms, acid rain is rain that is more acidic than normal. All objects in nature
have a certain level of acicicity but acid rain has too much acid in it. Acid
rain is a complicated problem, caused by air pollution. Acid rain’s spread and
damage involves weather, chemistry, soil, and the life cycles of plants and
animals on the land and from acid rain in the water. Acidity is measured using a
pH scale, with the number 7 being neutral. Therefore, a body with a pH value of
less than 7 is acidic. On the other hand, a value greater than 7 is basic. The
pH of 5.6 has been used as the baseline in identifying acid rain, although this
value is controversial, therefore, acid ran is any rainfall that has an acidity
level above what is expected in non-polluted rainfall. Any precipitation that
has a pH value of less than 5.6 is considered to be acid precipitation. Readings
of pH 2.4–as acidic as vinegar–were recorded during storms in New England.

During one particularly acid summer storm, rain falling on a lime-green
automobile leached away the yellow in the green paint, leaving blue raindrop
shaped spots on the car. Scientists have found that pollution in the air from
the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of acid rain. The major chemicals
in air that help to create acid rain are sulfur dioxide, known as (SO2), and
nitrogen oxides, known as (NOx). Acid rain is formed high in the clouds where
sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides react with water, oxygen, and oxidants. This
lethal mixture creates a mild solution of sulfuric acid and nitric acid.

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Sunlight often increases the speed at which the reaction occur. Rainwater, snow,
fog, and other forms of precipitation containing these new solutions of sulfuric
and nitric acids fall to earth as acid rain. Acid rain does not make up all of
the acidity that falls back to earth from pollutants. Only half of the acidity
in the air falls back to earth through dry deposition as gases and dry
particles. The wind blows and then these acidic grains are blown onto buildings,
cars, homes, and trees. In some cases, these particles can eat away the objects
which they land on. Dry deposited gases are sometimes washed from trees and
other surfaces by rainstorms. When this occurs, the runoff water adds the new
acids to the acid rain, making a more acidic combination than the falling rain
by itself. One of the main causes of acid rain is the sulfur dioxide. Sulfur
dioxide is one of the main ingredients which make up the deadly combination that
forms acid rain. Some of the natural sources that emit this gas are rotting
vegetation, volcanoes, plankton, rotting animals and sea spray. However, the
burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, do not help the situation and are
largely to blame for approximately half of the emissions of this gas in the
world. Water moves through living plants, animal, streams, lakes, and oceans in
the hydrologic cycle. In that cycle, water evaporates from the land and sea into
the atmosphere. Water in the atmosphere then condenses to form clouds. Clouds
release the water back to the earth as rain, snow, or fog. When water droplets
form and fall to the earth, they pick up particles and chemicals that float in
the air. Even clean, unpolluted air has some particles such as dust or pollen.

Clean air also contains naturally occurring gases such as carbon dioxide. The
interaction between the water droplets and the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
gives rain a pH of 5.6, making even clean rain slightly acidic. Other natural
sources of acids and bases in the atmosphere may lower or raise the pH of
unpolluted rain. However, when rain contains pollutants, especially sulfur
dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the rain water can become very acidic. This problem
is a problem of natures balance being tampered with. If not polluted, normal
precipitation would react with chemicals that are derived from bedrock in the
air, soil, lakes, and streams and this rain would be neutralized. Since the
precipitation is highly acidic, these natural buffering chemicals will be
destroyed. When this occurs, the natural buffering effect does not occur, and
nature wont keep its balance Acid rain has been a big problem for


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