Thursday, September 2, 2010

Acid Rain & Caustic Residues

When pollutants and emissions drift into the atmosphere and combine with rain or snow they form acids. These diluted acids settle on a vehicle’s surface and when the water evaporates and dries on the surface the remaining mineral-laden polluted rain becomes more concentrated and causes damage to the surface creating slight depressions or craters on the clear coat and sometimes into the color coat. When you have water spots that just won't come off, these imperfections are commonly referred to as acid rain etching.

This category also includes mineral deposits, cement, salt, calcium, and lime deposits. We recommend immediate removal to increase the probability of a full surface restoration. If left untreated, acid rain will cause permanent surface damage.

Similar damage can also be caused by bird droppings and insect residue. If the residue is extremely acidic in composition, it will etch a crater into paint and plastic.

Why is Acid Rain Harmful?

Acid Rain Can Cause Health Problems in People

Air pollution like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can cause respiratory diseases, or can make these diseases worse. Respiratory diseases like asthma or chronic bronchitis make it hard for people to breathe. The pollution that causes acid rain can also create tiny particles. When these particles get into people’s lungs, they can cause health problems, or can make existing health problems worse. Also, nitrogen oxides cause ground-level ozone. This ground-level ozone causes respiratory problems, like pneumonia and bronchitis, and can even cause permanent lung damage. The health effects that people have to worry about are not caused by the acid rain, but are caused when people breathe in these tiny particles or ozone. Swimming in an acidic lake or walking in an acidic puddle is no more harmful to people than swimming or walking in clean water.

Acid Rain Harms Forests
Acid rain can be extremely harmful to forests. Acid rain that seeps into the ground can dissolve nutrients, such as magnesium and calcium, that trees need to be healthy. Acid rain also causes aluminum to be released into the soil, which makes it difficult for trees to take up water. Trees that are located in mountainous regions at higher elevations, such as spruce or fir trees, are at greater risk because they are exposed to acidic clouds and fog, which contain greater amounts of acid than rain or snow. The acidic clouds and fog strip important nutrients from their leaves and needles. This loss of nutrients makes it easier for infections, insects, and cold weather to damage trees and forests.

Acid Rain Damages Lakes and Streams

Without pollution or acid rain, most lakes and streams would have a pH level near 6.5. Acid rain, however, has caused many lakes and streams in the northeast United States and certain other places to have much lower pH levels. In addition, aluminum that is released into the soil eventually ends up in lakes and streams. Unfortunately, this increase in acidity and aluminum levels can be deadly to aquatic wildlife, including , mayflies, rainbow trout, small mouth bass, frogs, spotted salamanders, crayfish, and other creatures that are part of the food web.

This problem can become much worse during heavy downpours of rain or when the snow begins to melt in the spring. These types of events are known as episodic acidification.

Acid Rain Damages Buildings and Objects

Acid rain can also have a damaging effect on many objects, including buildings, statues, monuments, and cars. The chemicals found in acid rain can cause paint to peel and stone statues to begin to appear old and worn down, which reduces their value and beauty.

What is acid rain?


Acid rain is rain that is polluted by acid in the atmosphere. It damages the environment. The acid can also be found in snow and fog. There are 2 main air pollutants that change into acid, sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOX). When they react with moisture in the atmosphere they become acids.

Where do the pollutants come from?


The sulphur and nitrogen pollutants come from burning fossil fuels, from coal-fired generators making electricity, from smelting furnaces in steel works, and from petrol driven motor vehicles.

What are the effects of acid rain?
Acid rain can harm forests and crops.
It pollutes rivers, lakes and streams and damages the animals that live in them. Acid rain also damage to statues and buildings.


Acidic dust!
Acid in the atmosphere also falls to the earth as dust. Some scientific studies have found that acidic dust particles can cause an increase in attacks of asthma and bronchitis in humans

When the dust is washed away by rain the acid is added to the rain water which pours into streams and river and the oceans, polluting them and harming plants and animals that live there.

Acid rain can also ruin buildings and public statues and monuments. The acid eats into metal and stone.

What can be done?
People can help by turning off lights, computers and other appliances when they're not being used.

Buy energy efficient appliances which use less electricity.

Using alternative energy sources such as wind energy, geothermal energy, and solar energy will reduce the pollutants caused by electricity generation.

Cars powered with natural gas and battery-powered cars will produce less pollution.

What is raildust?

Raildust is the common name given to ferrous metal fallout contamination. Often raildust comes from trains and is caused by the train’s wheels on the rails, the electrical pick-up rubbing overhead cables and the effect of the braking mechanism causing tiny particles of metal to fly off into the air. However, this kind of fallout can be caused by any mechanical device that involves metal on metal, including your own car’s brakes. Exhaust fumes will contain some amount of metal, especially from ships and aircraft, foundries and factories.

So already, by pointing out where it comes from, we can see how to avoid it - if you park your car at the railway station, park as far away from the tracks as you can. Metal dust is heavy so it doesn’t float about and travel very far. Just 50 yrds can make a huge difference to the amount of fallout your car will collect in the station car park. Also beware of car parks in ports, airports and next to busy motorways.And of course, if you must use a grinder to sharpen the lawnmower blades, park your car down the street!

No matter what you do, you will get some level of ferrous metal contamination on your car, but why is this a problem? Ferrous metal will rust when it comes into contact with water and the oxidization process causes acids which destroy the binders in your paint. So as the particle rusts, it dissolves the paint underneath it and it then burys it’s self deeper into the paint until it has eaten all the way through to the bodywork, and once that happens, your bodywork begins to rust. It’s important to know how to spot fallout, if you have a light coloured car you will be able to see it as little brown specs, often you can see these against a black coloured car too. A better way to find fallout is to feel for it.if your car is clean, wet an area with clean water and run your fingers over it, if you can feel hard gritty lumps, chances are that that is raildust. (some people do this while having their hand inside a sandwich bag, the fallout will snag on the bad revealing the fallout - this is a good method if you haven’t very sensitive fingertips).

There are two methods of removal. The first is an acid bath… this sounds scary but really isn’t a problem if you are a professional valeter. You wash the car down in an acidic solution, much like a wheel cleaner, this will dissolve the metal particles, and then before the acid can damage the paintwork you wash it off with a soapy solution which will neutralize the acid.

The second method is to use aclay bar (a.k.a. detailing clay) to remove the raildust. Usually a claybar is a synthetic putty which is very sticky and will suck the particles out of the paintwork. A claybar deserves a full entry which can be found here, worth reading folks, because this is a method that you can do yourself!

What is fallout? Acid Rain affect the cars

Fallout is anything that falls on your car, contaminates it and can damage the paint or otherwise ruin the appearance.Usually when people talk about fallout, they mean industrial fallout, specifically rail dust. Rail dust is particles of metal, most commonly from railway lines (hense the name) but it can come from any industrial process. Contamination with metal particals is a subject which deserves it’s own entry which can be found here.

Other forms of industrial fallout can include just about anything that industry pumps out into the air including pollution and acid rain. Over the years I have seen lime scale contaminated water splashed on cars, cement dust, red oxide paint, Hammerite, creosote, ash, soot, etc, etc.

Fallout really could include just about anything. Several of the cars we have treated for fallout managed to get it by driving down the motorway where earlier a lorry had spilt it’s load… so when you think of all the different liquids and powders transported on British roads, the possibilities are endless.There are also natural forms of fallout such as tree sap, berries and buds, or even bird/bat/insect droppings.

Apart from raildust, the two most common forms of fallout are paint overspray, concrete splatter and tree sap.

Paint overspray is very common, if your car goes into a bodyshop for crash repair it is likely to pick up some overspray. The body shop will mask out the immediate area of the repair, but the air becomes thick with paint particles which are semi-dry. These will land on the upper surfaces of your car and stick. If you car has had a fairly serious repair and been in the bodyshop for several days, you can get overspray from every car they have painted during that time and sometimes its quite visible and looks like a layer of dust. Unlike dust it won’t just wash off but there are several methods of removal. The first of these is to polish the car’s paintwork and windows, this is okay if the fallout isn’t too severe but might be very hard work on heavy fallout. The next method is to use a clay bar which is a sticky bar of riverbed clay, or more usually a synthetic clay very similar to Blu-tac, only a lot more sticky. Clay bar, otherwise know as detailing clay, will help you to rub away the fallout which will stick to the bar. The third method is machine polishing or buffing… if the overspray has gone on very wet this is the only way to remove it.

Unlike paint overspray which just makes your car look slightly matt and dull, fallout from trees can be harmful to your paintwork and cause etching or staining. Usually this organic fallout is tree sap, which isn’t too harmful if you get it off fairly quickly but it can be a real problem to remove. Usually we use a TFR which stands for Traffic Film Remover - this is just a soap but it is strong enough to strip traffic film, grease, and even the wax from your car. This usually works really well, especially when you are running the TFR through a hot pressure washer, but there are times where we have needed to use Tar and Glue remover or other solvent based cleaner.

Certain trees will drop berries onto your car which can cause stains, it’s important to wash these off as soon as possible, never more so than if they land on your car having passed through a dicky-bird! In fact bird droppings are one of the most corrosive things to land on your car. Many car enthusiasts cary a packet of baby wipes or a bottle of quick detailer wax and a microfibre cloth in the car to be able to deal with the problem in short order. Some manufacturers are now producing bird lime neutralizers to deal with the problem.