Monday, July 19, 2010

How Does Acid Rain Affect The Environment ?

It is important for us to understand what exactly Acid rain is to understand the harmful damages it can because Acid rain is mainly caused due to pollution. Air pollution is caused when every type of fuel is burnt or used by various industries and vehicles. Fuel contains several chemicals which do not dissolve, but instead become a residual gas in the environment. The smoke that comes out when fuel is burnt contains these residues.

The air in the atmosphere cannot absorb this smoke. So, it remains suspended there.However, rainfall absorbs all the impurities from the air, and that is how it absorbs these chemicals that come out of air pollution also. The raindrops turn acidic due to it. These raindrops contain harmful and invisible gases.

Power stations, factories, industries, cars, vehicles, airplanes and ships are all responsible for causing air pollution. The acidity of acid rain can only be measured using the pH scale. The lower the pH balance is, the more acidic the rain is. Acid rain upsets the pH balance of the atmosphere. To live healthily, we need to breathe in air with a normal pH balance. A normal pH balance indicates that the air is fresh and also is pure. Something like 7 is ideal.

However, in today’s circumstances in a city it is difficult to find a normal pH balance between 5 and 6. In some cities the pollution is so severe that the pH balance of the air falls below 3 sometimes. The environment which is not pure and pristine cannot hold life.

Where Does Acid Rain Come From ?

Acid rain is nothing but the regular rain that has turned acidic. There are several causes for acid rain, and one of the main reasons among them is high levels of pollution. Several industries, vehicles and power generating plants are dependant on fossil fuels like coal and oil for their operations.Almost everyone depends on power, and vehicles to run people's everyday lives.

However, these things would require coal or oil to be burnt to function. When these fossil fuels are burnt, they emit sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide into the air. These gases are hot in temperature, and they rise high. Raindrops absorb these chemicals when they condense and fall. When these gases that are absorbed by the raindrops react with carbon and sunlight, they turn into acids and the raindrop also turns acidic as a result. Acid rain is nothing but a simple chemical reaction that converts water into acid.

However, when the pollution is high and when it rains, this chemical reaction takes place in large scale. This leads to massive acid rain scenario. When acid rain falls at large, it can cause severe damage to plants, humans and also sea life. There are several forms of acid rain like acid fog, acid mist, and acid snow. All these can prove to be very dangerous for humans, plants and animals. The acidic gases and particles present in the atmosphere are called dry depositions. These can be present even on top of leaves and plants and when they get washed by rain, the rain can become acidic.

How Does Acid Rain Affect Humans ?

Acid rain has different effects on human beings, and also there are several kinds of it. In some parts of the world, where people have colder climates, they have to deal with acid rain, acid snow and even acid fog. It is a lot more miserable than acid rain. There are other kinds like acid gas and acid dust. So whichever particle found in the atmosphere when exposed to the polluted environment, it becomes acidic in nature.In today’s world most of the streams and lakes are acidic to a certain extent.

Acid rain affects human beings, plants and animals with the same magnitude. It causes damage to the environment and health in multiple levels. When human skin comes in contact with this type of rain, it may develop infections or get other skin diseases due to unwanted chemical reactions. Also, when people breathe in the air after an acid rain, they may develop lungs related problems and also breathing difficulty.

Children are the most vulnerable to acid rain. They develop lung and breathing related problems more easily than adults. Also, children who have conditions like asthma or bronchitis are more susceptible to the harmful effects of acid rain. The harmful side effects of acid rain is not only seen when we are in direct contact with it, but also in indirect contact. For example, fruits and vegetables that come in contact with this type of rain can also harm our body in the same way as being directly exposed to acid rain.