Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Solutions For Acid Rain

Most people have heard of acid rain, widely discussed as a threat to forests downwind from coal-fired power plants. Acid rain is primarily caused by sulfur dioxide (SO2), a byproduct of burning coal, oil or gas that is tinged with sulfur. Because sulfur is a commonly occurring element, it is virtually impossible to find deposits of these fossil fuels that do not contain sulfur. When sulfur dioxide is emitted as these fuels are burned, it enters the atmosphere and reacts with water. The outcome of this reaction is sulfuric acid (H2SO4); it is this acid that gives the rain its name.

Not a Recent Problem

Most nations have moved to burning low-sulfur fossil fuels such as low-sulfur coal. Since acid rain hasn't been in the news lately, it is assumed by the public to be a t hreat that has passed and in fact the measures put in place in the 1980's and 90's have made a significant impact on the problem. Upon closer examination though, the rain downwind from fossil fuel power plants is still acidic.

As one can see, there was a significant reduction in the acidity of the rain, especially in the Great Lakes region over the intervening years. That said, the pH of 'clean', natural rain is about 5.6; as a reference, vinegar stands around 3.0. Given this, the rain in the region is still quite acidic and capable of causing significant environmental issues.

The Impact of Sulfur Dioxide

After it has reacted in the atmosphere, sulfur dioxide falls to the Earth as acid rain. The most obvious impact of acid rain is one that we can visibly see. Plant life suited to normal-pH rain does not thrive well and will die in acid rain regions. The forests of Europe were devastated by acid rain. Figure 3 is an area of the Black Forest in Germany where there was significant tree-die-off from acid rain.

Effects that are not seen, however, may be even more significant. When acid rain falls in lakes, rivers and streams, the pH of the water is altered. Lakes that become acidified cannot support the variety of life that they once did. Crayfish, freshwater clams and muscles are the first to disappear and as these creatures are removed from the food chain, others begin to die, as well. Lakes in

limestone-rich areas are less prone to these die-offs as the limestone can neutralize the acid; lakes in regions where granite is common do not have this natural buffer and are the first to show such distress.

In addition, as the aquatic populations are reduced, the animals that rely upon the lakes for food and shelter are also impacted. Fish-eating birds and land mammals migrate to other areas and frogs, snails and other lake-dwellers die off from one generation to the next.

Didn't We Already Solve the Problem? What More Can Be Done?

One solution employed in the 1980's and 90's was to build higher stacks or chimneys. This effectively put the sulfur higher into the atmosphere and the acid rain moved further downwind. It quickly became obvious that this was just pushing the problem – not solving it. In fact in 1988, Prince Charles of Britain recognized this, saying: "Our responsibilities do lie in not exporting our problems


The ending to this story doesn't need to be so gloomy, though. There are new technologies that are being employed at power plants around the world. One such technology is flue gas desulfurization or FSD, essentially removing the sulfur dioxide from the combustion gases as they ascend the chimney flue. The three main methods employed to accomplish FSD are wet-scrubbing, dry-scrubbing, and injection. In wet and dry scrubbing, the two most commonly used methods; a slurry of limestone or lime is sprayed through the chimney as the gases rise. This lime reacts with the SO2 and the resulting compounds 'rain' down to be collected at the chimney's base.

There are also emerging technologies that could surpass the efficacy of lime scrubbing. The Chendu power plant in China and the Pomorzany power plant in Poland have installed new technology in which the flue gases are blasted with electrons and then exposed to ammonia. This reaction is said to leave little un-reacted SO2 that will escape the chimney and additionally it shows a similar

reduction in nitrous oxide (NOx). Though still in the early stages of testing, this may lead to very clean power plants in the developing world offering hope that the same problems that plagued Europe and North America, such as acid rain, might be avoided as these emerging economies expand and develop in the 21st century.

Different Area effect of Acid rain

Pollution effects are indeed many and wide-ranging.

There is no doubt that excessive levels of pollution are causing a lot of damage to human & animal health, plants & trees including tropical rainforests, as well as the wider environment.

All types of pollution – air, water and soil pollution – have an impact on the living environment.

The effects in living organisms may range from mild discomfort to serious diseases such as cancer to physical deformities; ex., extra or missing limbs in frogs.

Experts admit that pollution effects are quite often underestimated and that more research is needed to understand the connections between pollution and its effects on all life forms.

Environmental Pollution Effects on Humans

We know that pollution causes not only physical disabilities but also psychological and behavioral disorders in people.

We are discussing the effects of air pollution and specific air pollutants in more detail in the Air Pollutants article.

The following pollution effects on humans have been reported:

Air Pollution Effects (1, 2)

  • Reduced lung functioning
  • Irritation of eyes, nose, mouth and throat
  • Asthma attacks
  • Respiratory symptoms such as coughing and wheezing
    • Increased respiratory disease such as bronchitis
    • Reduced energy levels
    • Headaches and dizziness
    • Disruption of endocrine, reproductive and immune systems
    • Neurobehavioral disorders
    • Cardiovascular problems
    • Cancer
    • Premature death

    Water Pollution Effects (3)

    Waterborne diseases caused by polluted drinking water:

    • Typhoid
    • Amoebiasis
    • Giardiasis
    • Ascariasis
    • Hookworm

    Waterborne diseases caused by polluted beach water:

    • Rashes, ear ache, pink eye
    • Respiratory infections
    • Hepatitis, encephalitis, gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomach aches

    Conditions related to water polluted by chemicals (such as pesticides, hydrocarbons, persistent organic pollutants,

    • Cancer, incl. prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
    • Hormonal problems that can disrupt reproductive and developmental processes
    • Damage to the nervous system
    • Liver and kidney damage
    • Damage to the DNA
    • Exposure to mercury (heavy metal):

      • In the womb: may cause neurological problems including slower reflexes, learning deficits, delayed or incomplete mental development, autism and brain damage
      • In adults: Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and even death

      Soil Pollution Effects (4)

      • Causes cancers including leukaemia
        • Lead in soil is especially hazardous for young children causing developmental damage to the brain
        • Mercury can increase the risk of kidney damage; cyclodienes can lead to liver toxicity
        • Causes neuromuscular blockage as well as depression of the central nervous system
        • Also causes headaches, nausea, fatigue, eye irritation and skin rash

        Other notes:

        • Contact with contaminated soil may be direct (from using parks, schools etc) orindirect (by inhaling soil contaminants which have vaporized)
        • Soil pollution may also result from secondary contamination of water supplies and from deposition of air contaminants (for example, via acid rain)
        • Contamination of crops grown in polluted soil brings up problems with food security
        • Since it is closely linked to water pollution, many effects of soil contamination appear to be similar to the ones caused by water contamination

        Environmental Pollution Effects on Animals

        Effects of Pollution on Animals - Air Pollution (5)

        • Acid rain (formed in the air) destroys fish life in lakes and streams
        • Excessive ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun through the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere which is eroded by some air pollutants, may cause skin cancer in wildlife
        • Ozone in the lower atmosphere may damage lung tissues of animals

      • Effects of Pollution on Animals - Water Pollution (6)

        • Nutrient pollution (nitrogen, phosphates etc) causes overgrowth of toxic algae eaten by other aquatic animals, and may cause death; nutrient pollution can also cause outbreaks of fish diseases
        • Chemical contamination can cause declines in frog biodiversity and tadpole mass
        • Oil pollution (as part of chemical contamination) can negatively affect development of marine organisms, increase susceptibility to disease and affect reproductive processes; can also cause gastrointestinal irritation, liver and kidney damage, and damage to the nervous system
        • Mercury in water can cause abnormal behavior, slower growth and development, reduced reproduction, and death
        • Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may cause declines, deformities and death of fish life
        • Too much sodium chloride (ordinary salt) in water may kill animals (7)

        Other notes:

        • We also assume that some higher forms of non-aquatic animals may have similar effects from water pollution as those experienced by humans, as described above

      • Effects of Pollution on Animals - Soil Pollution (8)

        • Can alter metabolism of microorganisms and arthropods in a given soil environment; this may destroy some layers of the primary food chain, and thus have a negative effect on predator animal species
        • Small life forms may consume harmful chemicals which may then be passed up the food chain to larger animals; this may lead to increased mortality rates and even animal extinction

        Environmental Pollution Effects on Trees and Plants

      • Air Pollution (9)

      • Acid rain can kill trees, destroy the leaves of plants, can infiltrate soil by making it unsuitable for purposes of nutrition and habitation
      • Ozone holes in the upper atmosphere can allow excessive ultraviolet radiation from the sun to enter the Earth causing damage to trees and plants
      • Ozone in the lower atmosphere can prevent plant respiration by blocking stomata (openings in leaves) and negatively affecting plants’ photosynthesis rates which will stunt plant growth; ozone can also decay plant cells directly by entering stomata

      Water Pollution

      • May disrupt photosynthesis in aquatic plants and thus affecting ecosystems that depend on these plants (10)
      • Terrestrial and aquatic plants may absorb pollutants from water (as their main nutrient source) and pass them up the food chain to consumer animals and humans
      • Plants may be killed by too much sodium chloride (ordinary slat) in water (11)
      • Plants may be killed by mud from construction sites as well as bits of wood and leaves, clay and other similar materials (12)
      • Plants may be killed by herbicides in water; herbicides are chemicals which are most harmful to plants (13)

    • Soil Pollution

      • May alter plant metabolism and reduce crop yields (14)
      • Trees and plants may absorb soil contaminants and pass them up the food chain

    • Environmental Pollution Effects on Wider Environment

      Apart from destroying the aquatic life in lakes and streams, acid rain can also corrode metals, damage surfaces of buildings and monuments, and cause soil acidification.

      Pollution of water may cause oxygen depletion in marine environments and severely affect the health of whole ecosystems. (15)

The Effects of Acid Rain

The effects of acid rain are widely known. This article will provide some information. Acid rain contains a pH of less than4 and is produced by rain water falling through volcanic emissions. Acid rain describes any form of precipitation with high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids. Acid rain has many ecological effects, but none is greater than its impact on lakes, streams, wetlands, and other aquatic environments. Acid rain makes waters acidic and causes them to absorb the aluminum that makes its way from soil into lakes and streams. It also damages forests, especially those at higher elevations. Acid rain flows into streams, lakes, and marshes after falling on forests, fields, buildings, and roads. Acid rain also falls directly on aquatic habitats.

Acid rain primarily affects sensitive bodies of water, which are located in watersheds whose soils have a limited ability to neutralize acidic compounds (called "buffering capacity"). Acid rain causes a cascade of effects that harm or kill individual fish, reduce fish population numbers, completely eliminate fish species from a waterbody, and decrease biodiversity. Acid rain control will produce significant benefits in terms of lowered surface water acidity.

Acid rain pollution is a problem that affects everyone. The effects of Acid rain are mainly created by the combination of sulfur and oxide mixing with moisture for the sky. Acid rain is considered one of the biggest environmental problems faced by the world today. Acid rain is also acid deposits resulting from sulfurs and oxides mixing with drops of rain or snow, and then dropping to the ground or rivers. Acid rain will only be controlled by a global agreement and re-enforcement of laws to protect the environment.

This problem in the Northeast is not just about lakes without fish, but also about forests losing their trees and soils that hoard acid before leaching it back out to contaminate local waters all over again, according to a scientific study of upstate New York and New England. Acid rain is a result of air pollution. It is much, much weaker than this, never acidic enough to burn your skin. Acid rain can effect trees in several different ways, it may: dissolve and wash away the nutrients and minerals in the soil which help the trees to grow. Acid rain is not something that you hear a lot about these days but that doesn't make it any less of a problem. Acid rain affects everything on the planet.

Acid rain, however, is the result of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides entering the atmosphere. Acid rain refers to precipitation, both wet and dry, that is acidic in nature. Acid rain is associated with atmospheric pollution. Acid rain with pH readings well below 2. It has an adverse impact on our forests, soils, flora and fauna that thrive in various ecosystems, and human health. Acid rain and wetlands can delay or even reverse recovery of lakes from the effects of acid rain. acid rain attacks the leaves and dissolve their waxy coating.

Acid rain is the term given to all forms of acid precipitation (rain, hail, snow, fog etc). This is a global problem as the acidic clouds can be blown 1000's of kilometers before precipitation occurs. Acid rain tends to result in toxic metal ions being released from the soil into lakes or soil water thus killing fish and trees. Acid rain also has been found to speed up the natural decay of stone monuments and historical buildings.

Acid rain is directly linked air pollution. Acid rain precipitates from the atmosphere to the surface of the Earth. Acid rain must be controlled by the reduction of SO22 and NOx emissions in order to preserve plant and animal lives. Acid rain is caused by sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. Effects of acid rain are sometimes far removed from the source of pollutants.

Acid rain is a serious environmental problem that affects large parts of the United States and Canada. Acid rain is particularly damaging to lakes, streams, and forests and the plants and animals that live in these ecosystems. Acid rain occurs when these gases react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and other chemicals to form various acidic compounds. Acid Rain Part of the Encyclopedia of the Atmospheric Environment, this website is presented by the Centre for Air Transport and the Environment's Atmosphere, Climate, & Environment Information program.

Acid rain was discovered in 1963 in North America at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, site of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, in rain that was some 100 times more acidic than unpolluted rain. Acid rain is rainfall that has been acidified. Acid rain is formed when pollutants called oxides of sulfur and nitrogen, contained in power plant smoke, factory smoke, and car exhaust, react with the moisture in the atmosphere. Acid rain can cause buildings, statues and bridges to deteriorate faster than usual. Acid rain also damages soil and the tree roots in it. Acid rain can also harm people indirectly. Acid rain, one of the most important environmental problems of all, cannot be seen. Acid rain moves easily, affecting locations far beyond those that let out the pollution.

Acid rain in combination with ozone may damage the waxy coating on leaves and needles. Acid rain does not respect political boundaries. Acid rain produced by air pollution generated in the heavily industrialized Ruhr region of Germany probably accounts for the severe damage. Acid rain disrupts the process of photosynthesis resulting in damage to plant life.

Acid rain affects the landscape on which it falls in numerous ways, including leaching calcium out of the soil. Acid rain is rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic. Acid rain is mostly caused by human emissions of sulfur and nitrogen compounds which react in the atmosphere to produce acids. Acid Rain: a problem which concerns us all The United States and Canada suffer greatly from acid rain because of the inability of the soil to neutralize the acidity naturally, lacking alkalinity. Acid rain is the broad term used to describe several ways that a weak solution of inorganic acids, such as nitric and sulfuric acid, falls out of the atmosphere as rain, snow, mist and fog. Acid rain triggers a number of inorganic and biochemical reactions with deleterious environmental effects, making this a growing environmental problem worldwide. Acid rain forms when molecules of oxidized sulfur and/or nitrogen in the atmosphere combine with water, forming acidic compounds that dissolve in the water that becomes rain.

Acidification is also a problem in lakes that were not surveyed in federal research projects. Acidity is measured using a scale called the pH scale. Acidic deposition also may occur in a dry form when acidic compounds attach to particulates (dust) and return to earth. Acid aerosols are mixtures of several different pollutants including particles (large and small), strong acids (e. Acid deposition also has been connected to elevated mercury concentrations in fish and fish-eating wildlife such as the common loon, mink, otter, and eagles. Acidic rain kills many lake fish species and damages the lakes' general health.

Acid-rain damage can easily chop $1,000 off your car's value at trade-in time. Acid deposition has led to the destruction of sensitive flora and inhabitants of our fresh water biomes. Acidification of lakes results in a decrease in species diversity as fewer and fewer species can survive as the pH decreases. Acidity in rain is measured by collecting samples of rain and measuring its pH. Acidic water can flow over and through the ground, affecting plants, animals, soils, and bodies of water. Acid deposition degrades water quality by lowering pH levels (i. Acid deposition is the major cause of red spruce decline at high elevations in the Northeast. Acid episodes are particularly harmful to aquatic life because abrupt changes in water chemistry allow fish few areas of refuge. Acid deposition has altered and continues to alter soils in parts of the Northeast in three ways. Acid deposition depletes calcium and other base cations from the soil; facilitates the mobilization of dissolved inorganic aluminum (hereafter referred to simply as aluminum) into soil water; and increases the accumulation of sulfur and nitrogen in the soil. Acid deposition results in the accumulation of sulfur and nitrogen in forest soils.

Acidic water dissolves the nutrients and helpful minerals in the soil. Acid deposition changes the chemistry of the environment. Acid deposition is the falling of acids from the atmosphere to the earth's surface. Acid shock produced by such melting kills fish by altering their body chemistry, reducing oxygen intake, and disrupting muscle conditions. Acid deposition also destroys statues, headstones, buildings, and fountains. Acid directly interferes with the ability of fish to take in oxygen, salt, and other nutrients needed to stay alive. Acidic conditions in the water cause mucus to form in the gills of fish, and prevents them from absorbing oxygen from the surrounding waters

Acid particles are also deposited onto buildings and statues causing corrosion. Acid/Gas control—Wet scrubbers —Dry scrubbers —Flue gas desulfurization.

Recent and current policies to reduce acid precipitation and Nitrogen emissions are shifting the problem from one area to another While emissions are remaining stable or decreasing in already Heavily impacted areas, they are increasing in formerly "clean" or relatively unimpacted areas (including other countries. Acid rain also has a damaging effect on metal pipes and fittings. Acid Rain deposition changes the chemistry of the environment. Acid rain is an extremely destructive form of pollution, and. Acid rain does not usually kill trees directly. Acid rain can harm other plants in the same way it harms trees. Acid Rain's Effects on Plants and Wildlife An article on the effects of acid rain on plants, wildlife, and humans. Acid Rain Webquest If you are looking for any additional activities to challenge older or more advanced students, this webquest puts students in roles of chemist, ecologist, health scientist, or economist to examine the issue from that perspective.

Acid rain is formed by the oxidation of sulfur and nitrogen containing compounds which have both natural and human caused emissions. It also accelerates weathering in carbonate rocks and accelerates building weathering. Acid rain from power plants in the midwest United States has also harmed the forests of upstate New York and New England. Acid rain was first reported in Manchester, England, which was an important city during the Industrial Revolution. Acid in water inhibits the production of enzymes which enable trout larvae to escape their eggs. Acid rain can cause erosion on ancient and valuable statues and has caused considerable damage. Acid Rain is harmful to our environment in three major ways: by contact with plants, by contact with soil and water, by mobilizing trace metals. Acid rain damages areas with shallow soil more that other areas. Acid rain (acid deposition) is a fairly large term that describes the ways in which acid comes from the atmosphere. Acid water is known to dissolve nutrients and wash them away before trees and plants can use them. Acid rain brains the soil of many valuable nutrients, while increasing the levels of more carcinogenic elements in the soil like aluminum, which inhibits the intake of water and minerals.

Acids can react chemically with some kinds of rocks. Acid rain has been a major concern of ecologists around the world. Acid rain is rain that has been mixed with sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that come from the combustion of fossil fuels. Acid rain has rendered 212 lakes in the Adirondacks unfit for fish. Acid Rain is said to have a devastating effect on the forests of the world.

In the mid-Appalachians, approximately 30 percent of sensitive streams are likely to become acidic during an episode. This level is seven times the number of chronically acidic streams in that area. sources also contribute to acidic deposition in eastern Canada, where the soil is very similar to the soil of the Adirondack Mountains, and the lakes are consequently extremely vulnerable to chronic acidification problems. The Canadian government has estimated that 14,000 lakes in eastern Canada are acidic. As acid rain flows through soils in a watershed, aluminum is released from soils into the lakes and streams located in that watershed. Some types of plants and animals are able to tolerate acidic waters. Others, however, are acid-sensitive and will be lost as the pH declines. The chart below shows that not all fish, shellfish, or the insects that they eat can tolerate the same amount of acid; for example, frogs can tolerate water that is more acidic (i. For example, frogs may tolerate relatively high levels of acidity, but if they eat insects like the mayfly, they may be affected because part of their food supply may disappear. Thus, as lakes and streams become more acidic, the numbers and types of fish and other aquatic plants and animals that live in these waters decrease. Nitrogen plays a significant role in episodic acidification and new research recognizes the importance of nitrogen in long-term chronic acidification as well. If acidic deposition levels were to remain constant over the next 50 years (the time frame used for projection models), the acidification rate of lakes in the Adirondack Mountains that are larger than 10 acres would rise by 50 percent or more. Scientists predict, however, that the decrease in SO2 emissions required by the Acid Rain Program will significantly reduce acidification due to atmospheric sulfur. Without the reductions in SO2 emissions, the proportions of acidic aquatic ecosystems would remain high or dramatically worsen.

The scientific and medical literature was reviewed to determine the relationship between acid rain and human illness. Although 'acid rain' or more properly acid deposition is a relatively new environmental issue, Robert Angus Smith described the condition in the highly industrialized city of Manchester, England, in 1872. While not precisely characterized, the mechanism of its formation appears to proceed from the photolytic transformation of sulfur and nitrogen oxides into sulfates and nitrates which in turn, in the presence of moisture, yield sulfuric and nitric acids. These oxides and acids have been associated with diminished fish populations, and malformations in a variety of estaurine species in Europe, the U.

Concern that acid rain may be a health hazard is widespread in our population. This review seeks to ascertain both the direct and indirect effects of acid precipitation by analyzing the salient scientific literature. As a consequence of pollution abatement efforts the next 15 to 20 years should witness a reduction in acid levels. Hence, a significant threat to public health via acid rain currently or in the the foreseeable future, should not be expected. Although acid rain' or more properly acid deposition, is a relatively new environmental issue in the United States, the term itself was advanced by Robert Angus Smith as early as 18721. Twenty years earlier in an article written for the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester (England) he remarked relative to that city's air that "we may therefore find easily three kinds of air, that with carbonate of ammonia in the fields at a distance, that with sulphate of ammonia in the suburbs, and that with sulphuric acid, or acid sulphate, in the town. " He noted that it was the free sulfuric acid in Manchester's air which caused the fading of colors in textile as well as the rusting of metals2. Currently there is an emerging scientific consensus that acid precipitation has destroyed life in some fresh water lakes and streams, particularly in northeastern United States and Canada, and has damaged buildings and other structures. Debate continues about the effects of acid rain on trees and plants and on human health. The following remark is contained in its summary: "acidic deposition (from precipitation) must contribute to acidification somewhere in the ecosystem. The deposition inputs may be over whelmed by the natural acidification process, however, and not cause measurable changes. " Nevertheless, in January 1986, President Reagan's special representative on acid rain together with Canada's representative on the high-level acid rain panel, concluded in their report that acid rain is "a serious environmental problem". Whether acid rain is or is not a man-made pollutant, there is concern among the general public as to its potential for adverse health effects. This review seeks to determine both the direct and indirect effects of acid precipitation on human health, by analyzing the salient scientific documents, published papers and summaries of national and international conferences. Send your articles, photographs or news about Facts About Acid Rain. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken a position on acid rain. Their primary goal is to make changes to current rules and laws to resolve the issue of acid rain. Three environmentalists made national news by climbing to the top of a smoke stack in order to draw attention to the negligence of manufacturers in making the necessary changes to reduce acid rain. If man neglects and minimizes the threat of acid rain, his children and the following generations will have a bigger problem to deal with.

New laws are created to control and hopefully reverse the effects of acid rain. Governments are working in concert with manufacturers to reduce the emission levels of pollutants causing acid rain. The amount of acid rain can be greatly reduced by such simple actions like lowering oneĆ­s electricity consummation switching to other energy sources. The effects of acid rain are felt worldwide. Winds are also carriers of acid in the air, in a drier form. The effects of acid rain are dangerous because they are seen on water supplies, the environment, wildlife, and plant life. Everyone has a role to play in reducing acid rain and daily small gestures will amount to tangible results. One has also to participate in environmental debates and forums and pressure their existing government to take a strong stand on the acid rain issue. that we act this year to reduce the pollutants that cause acid rain," said Timothy J. Even where nesting habitat remains, fragmentation of that habitat has increased the threat of cowbird parasitism, while the effects of acid rain are further reducing nesting success. Some of these gases (especially nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide) react with the tiny droplets of water in clouds to form sulphuric and nitric acids. 0 is the most acidic and 14 is the most alkaline (opposite of acidic). Something with a pH value of 7, we call neutral, this means that it is neither acidic nor alkaline. Very strong acids will burn if they touch your skin and can even destroy metals. Rain is always slightly acidic because it mixes with naturally occurring oxides in the air. When the air becomes more polluted with nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide the acidity can increase to a pH value of 4. The Effects of Acid Rain Acid rain can be carried great distances in the atmosphere, not just between countries but also from continent to continent. The acid can also take the form of snow, mists and dry dusts. Is acid rain responsible for all this. Scientists have been doing a lot of research into how acid rain affects the environment. It is thought that acid rain can cause trees to grow more slowly or even to die but scientists have found that it is not the only cause. The same amount of acid rain seems to have more effect in some areas than it does in others. As acid rain falls on a forest it trickles through the leaves of the trees and runs down into the soil below. Other soils are already slightly acidic and these are particularly susceptible to the effects of acid rain. It is not just trees that are affected by acid rain, other plants may also suffer. Lakes and Rivers It is in aquatic habitats that the effects of acid rain are most obvious. As the acidity of a lake increases, the water becomes clearer and the numbers of fish and other water animals decline. Some species of plant and animal are better able to survive in acidic water than others. Freshwater shrimps, snails, mussels are the most quickly affected by acidification followed by fish such as minnows, salmon and roach. The roe and fry (eggs and young) of the fish are the worst affected, the acidity of the water can cause deformity in young fish and can prevent eggs from hatching properly. The acidity of the water does not just affect species directly, it also causes toxic substances like aluminium to be released into the water from the soil, harming fish and other aquatic animals. Water, wind, ice and snow all help in the erosion process but unfortunately, acid rain can help to make this natural process even quicker.

The worst affected are things made from limestone or sandstone as these types of rock are particularly susceptible and can be affected by air pollution in gaseous form as well as by acid rain. It was in southern Scandinavia in the late 1950's that the problems of acid rain were first observed and it was then that people began to realise that the origins of this pollution were far away in Britain and Northern Europe. The wind carries the pollution many hundreds of miles away where it eventually falls as acid rain. In this way Britain has contributed at least 16% of the acid deposition in Norway. Over ninety percent of Norway's acid pollution comes from other countries. Governments are now beginning to admit that acid rain is a serious environmental problem and many countries are now taking steps to reduce the amount of sulphur and nitrogen emissions. These are 'clean' as far as acid rain goes but what other impact do they have on our environment.

One of the biggest natural causes of it include the eruption of volcanoes. These harmful gasses fill the air and then they combine with the moisture forming acidic clouds that eventually leads to rain which is acidic. It's important to realize that the term acid rain also refers to any type of moisture that falls from the sky such as, fog, dew and snow as well as rain. The effects of acid rain are certainly undesirable and something that everyone on the planet should be aware of. You may not hear much about acid rain with all the other more immediate problems the world is facing. What do we know about the effects of acid rain in Wisconsin. The effects of acid rain are evident in New York's Adirondack Mountains, in Germany's Black Forest, and industrial urban areas around the world--and the picture is not a pretty one. While acid rain has not caused such severe problems in Wisconsin as in the places mentioned above, it is still an air pollution issue that generates concern among the state's residents. While pure rain is naturally slightly acidic, the higher level of acidity in acid rain makes it a threat to plant and aquatic life and to some manmade materials and structures.

The slight natural acidity of pure rain is the result of carbon dioxide in the air dissolving in water to produce a weak carbonic acid solution. This natural acid in rainfall and snowmelt is partly responsible for the long, slow weathering of soil and rocks. Once these chemicals are released into the atmosphere, they combine with moisture, change chemically, and return to earth in the form of acidic rain, snow or fog. These acids can overwhelm the neutralizing capacity of some soils and lake water. Simply stated, the environment is sometimes unable to defend itself against the effects of these acids. Back to TopHow do we measure acidity. Chemists use a pH test that measures the concentration of hydrogen ions in a chemical solution to determine the solution's relative acidity or alkalinity. This test rates the solution's acidity/alkalinity on a scale from 0 to 14. A pH value of 1 is very acidic (like battery acid), while a pH value of 14 is very alkaline (like lye).

Many factors affect whether, or at what rate, acidification due to acid rain occurs in bodies of water. However, bodies of water that are low in alkalinity or acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) are considered especially vulnerable to the effects of acid rain. A body of water is considered "acidic" if it does not have any acid neutralizing capacity. As a body of water becomes more acidic, it loses some of its biodiversity as the more acid-sensitive species of plant and animal life die off or experience a decrease in reproductive success.

The degree of threat from acid rain depends on the vulnerability of plant and animal species in that body of water to an acidic environment. According to the DNR's Surface Water Resources Data Base, approximately 2 percent of the state's lakes are acidic. An additional 10 percent are "extremely sensitive" to acid rain, 25 percent are "moderately sensitive" and 60 percent are not sensitive. Surveys done in northern parts of Wisconsin, however, where most of the state's lakes are located, show that these areas have an even greater incidence of acidic lakes. Environmental Protection Agency showed that up to 9 percent of lakes in the northeast and north central region were acidic. On the other hand, Wisconsin's streams are not considered to be sensitive to the effects of acid rain. A direct effect of acid deposition on human health results from exposure to acid aerosols inhaled from the surrounding air. sulfuric acid), weak acids and vapors (e. Long-term exposure to acid aerosols is known to damage lung tissue and contribute to the development of respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis, especially in children and the elderly. Researchers believe that acidification of bodies of water increases the formation and movement of methylmercury--a toxic form ofmercury--into the aquatic food chain.

Pollutants associated with it interfere with light transmission in the atmosphere which results in reduced visibility. In addition to damaging building materials, acid rain can also cause increased weathering of historic structures and outdoor art objects, such as the Bradley Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee. Wisconsin passed one of the first and strongest state acid rain control laws in the nation in 1986, making the state a leader in acid rain policy. Meanwhile, Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 which also contain strong acid rain control measures. These measures--especially the state law--are credited with a reduction in emissions that has been associated with a noticeable decrease in the acidity of rainfall in the state. The most recent analysis of wet acid precipitation data (1990) indicates that the annual average pH in Wisconsin ranged from 4. Because a substantial amount of the acid rain that falls in Wisconsin results from pollution sources within the state, there are a number of things Wisconsin residents can do to combat the acid rain problem. Using electrical energy wisely could have a significant impact because a lot of the emissions that contribute to acid rain originate from coal-burning electric power plants.

With a combination of education and action, Wisconsin residents can continue to reduce acid rain and help preserve the natural beauty of the state for ourselves and for generations to come. For more information about acid rain in Wisconsin, contact:. In addition to the green house gas effect, the acidification of rain water that results from excessive emission of sulfur and nitrogen oxides into the air. The most prominent result is dilute acid formation in our rainwater. Presence of these acids increases the acidity of rain water. Rain water is naturally acidic due to the presence of carbon dioxide in the air.

Rain in the mid-Pacific and in the central Indian Ocean was found to be acidic,(1) no doubt due to polluters in Pittsburgh, Pa. who pulled ice core samples from glaciers in the Himalayas, including one dating back 350 years, found them laden with acid,(2) no doubt due to the hitherto unsuspected Great Nepalese Industrial Revolution of the mid-17th century. It has also been pointed out that the amounts of coal mined and burned in the US in the 1920's, 1930's and mid-1940's were not very different from today, lending support to the theory that increased rain acidity may in part be caused by the shortage of alkaline particles which used to neutralize the acidity of stack gases, but which are now removed by pollution control equipment. None of which is to say that coal-fired plants can be ruled out as one of the causes of acid rain. What is certain is that the origins and effects of acid rain are as yet largely unknown, and that politicians will always be eager to legislate before it is too late i. The amount of H can determine whether the substance is acidic or basic (alkaline). Environmental Impacts Effects of acid rain are worse in those regions that: Are downwind of industrial areas Do not contain calcium carbonate in rocks and soils to reduce acidity Primary cause of acid rain is from nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), from automobile and coal-fired power plant emissions, which transform into nitric & sulfuric acid Resulting acidic rain precipitates to the ground, rendering waterways too acidic to support aquatic life. Peninsula, OH Most organisms are adapted to live within a specific range of pH, thus, even a slight change may be fatal Acid mine drainage, from coal mining and other resource extraction, contains sulfuric acid (H2SO4) which can break off an extra H , lowering the pH Acidic water, low pH, releases metals, which can harm aquatic life Average pH of natural creek water in Pennsylvania is between 6. The determination of the chemical composition of rocks involves the crushing and breakdown of rocks until they are in small enough pieces that decomposition by hot acids (hydrofluoric, nitric, hydrochloric, and perchloric acids) allows the elements present to enter into solution for analysis. The effects of acid rain are of great concern to geologists not only for the potential damage to the biosphere, but also because acid rain accelerates the weathering process. Rainwater is made acidic as it passes through the atmosphere. Although rain becomes naturally acidic as it contacts nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, many industrial pollutants bring about reactions that bring the acidity of rainwater to dangerous levels.

Increased levels of carbon dioxide from industrial pollution can increase the formation of carbonic acid. Precipitation of this "acid rain" adversely affects both geological and biological systems. Although a neutral solution has a pH value of 7, even in pre-industrial times natural rainwater was slightly acid with a pH value of 5. Read all of this article with a FREE trial to HighBeam Research Related newspaper, magazine, and trade journal articles from HighBeam Research (Including press releases, facts, information, and biographies) Control Acid Rain and Sulfur Dioxide Pollution, Improve Environmental Quality Magazine article from: China Chemical Reporter ;. What is more, acid rain frequently appears. Beijing makes acid rain blacklist Sulfur dioxide emissions treatment cuts problem in south. "Chemicals in acid rain react with paint to form sulfuric and nitric. "Acid rain is a big problem in the United States and Maryland. Efforts to control acid rain have had been stalled for the. The report also said that acid rain is contributing to the erosion of buildings. But he said many people involved in the acid rain debate told him it had little news value.

Water quality in Adirondack lakes responding to acid rain regulations. And while acid rain is not directly harmful to human health, the pollutants that cause acid rain (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Summit unlikely to spur quick action on acid rain controls. "A sucessful acid rain program must look at all the. Proposals Most of the acid rain control programs that have. Find more facts and information related to the article "acid rain" Search over 100 encyclopedias and dictionaries: Search HighBeam™ Research, Inc. The result of human-induced emissions, acid rain has grave effects on the planet's flora and fauna and different ecosystems. Precipitation like sleet, rain, snow or dry acidic components that have a pH of less than 4. Today, a myriad of highly deleterious environmental effects of acid rain are being researched upon. Every subsequent decrease in the pH value is indicative of a greater acidic composition. The acidification is largely triggered by the increased presence of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere. Emissions from the burning of fossil fuel, industry combustion, wildfires and volcanic eruptions add to the existent quantum of acid-producing gases in the atmosphere. The other causes of acid rain are emissions from electricity generating plants and motor vehicles.