Saturday, April 10, 2010

Acid Rain & Heart Disease

Acid rain is the deposition of acidic components in rain, snow, fog, dew or dry particles that come from sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. These dangerous chemical pollutants can have a severe impact on human health, including pulmonary disorders and heart disease. Much research is being done to combat acid rain for the sake of the environment, aquatic life and human health.

Process of Acid Rain

  • The process of depositing air pollutants on the Earth's surface is known as atmospheric deposition. These pollutants are derived from natural sources, such as forest fires and volcanoes, or from anthropogenic (man-made) sources, such as electric power plants and automobiles. Atmospheric deposition is both wet and dry. Wet deposition is precipitation (for example, rain and snow), and dry deposition is the settling, impaction, or adsorption of particles in dry weather. If wet deposition is acidic, it is known as acid rain.
  • Measuring Acid Rain

  • Because acid rain looks, feels and tastes like clean water, pH measurements are taken to determine its acidity. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, pure water has a pH of 7.0, and normal rain has a pH of about 5.6. Water is considered acid if the pH is less than 7.0 and alkaline if the pH is greater than 7.0. The lower the pH, the greater is the acidity of the water.
  • Causes of Acid Rain

    Air pollution is the principal cause of acid rain. The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, from electric power generators forms sulfur dioxide. Automobile fumes cause nitrogen oxides to form. These gases are released into the atmosphere and travel with the wind for hundreds of miles from the originating city to the countryside, harming not only Earth's forests and lakes, but also the health of humanity.

  • Link Between Acid Rain and Heart Disease

    When you breathe the air pollutants (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) that cause acid rain, symptoms including coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and chest pain can occur. The formulated particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and aggravate heart disease. The high levels of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides associated with acid rain are particularly harmful to senior citizens and people with existing heart disease. As a result of these airborne particles, hospital admissions for heart disease are on the rise as well as higher morbidity rates from this ailment.

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