Friday, December 16, 2016

Gardens: The surprising Benefits of Acid rain

Sulphur is a key plant nutrient vital to healthy growth, but UK soils are naturally deficient in this essential mineral. Back in the 1980s this was of little concern to growers as these levels were continually topped up by “atmospheric deposition”, ie acid rain.

Fast forward to 2016 and this is increasingly worthy of attention. One small survey conducted over 2014 and 2015, for example, found that only 13% of the crops sampled showed sulphur levels in the “normal” range, with the rest registering as low or slightly low. This is a concern as inadequate sulphur levels have been shown to slash farm yields of some (but admittedly not all) crops by as much as 50%. Surprising as it may seem, even acid rain clouds can have a silver lining.

As many plants also use sulphur pulled up from the soil to generate defence compounds to help ward off pests and diseases, this deficiency can also result in weak, vulnerable crops that require higher pesticide applications. These defence compounds also happen to be the exact same chemicals that give vegetables, like onions, garlic, broccoli and sprouts, their characteristic flavour and associated health benefits. Heard about the antioxidants in broccoli and garlic? It’s the sulphur chemicals, derived from the soil, that are doing the work.

While this effect is likely to be greater in agricultural soils, where crops are constantly taking sulphur from the soil only to be harvested and removed from the site, this can be an issue even in garden soils. Take lawns for example: years of continual mowing and disposal of the grass clippings essentially mimics that of agriculture – acting like a pump on a conveyor belt to suck up the sulphur.

If you suspect your soil is sulphur-deficient, there is a simple solution that offers all of the benefits without the damaging acidity: Epsom salts. This naturally occurring mineral combines both sulphur and another essential plant nutrient, magnesium, in a double whammy and can be bought for minimal cost at any garden centre. Simply sprinkle over the ground according to package directions for higher yields of tastier and more nutritious crops.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Causes and Effects of Acidic Rain Formation

Pictorial aspect of acidic rain formation
The term acidic rain was first used by Robert Angus in 1872. Literally it means the presence of excessive acids in rain water or the fall of acids mixed with rain and snow. Nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide which are acidic gases dissolve in in the rain water in the atmosphere and make it acidic. Acidic rain in fact is a cocktail of mainly H2SO4 (Sulfuric acid) and HNO3 (Nitric acid) where the ratio of these two may vary depending on the relative quantities of oxides of sulphur and nitrogen emitted. H2SO4 is the major contributor (60-70 percent) to acid precipitation. HNO3 ranks second (with 30-40 percent) and HCL third.
Although the oxides sulfur and nitrogen have been recognized as the main components responsible for acid rain, their relative contributions to acid rain is still not very clear because of the highly complex nature of their transport and complexity involved in their removal from rain water. Once these oxides have fallen, along with rain water, it is difficult to remove them from the environment. These oxides may travel long distances in the atmosphere and during this journey, they may undergo several physical and chemical transformations to products which may also fall with rain. Hence, acid rain which is mainly a man made is a global ecological challenge. Normal rain water is always slight acidic because of the fact that CO2 present in the atmosphere gets dissolved in it, forming carbonic acid (H2CO3). Because of the presences of SO2 and NO2 gases as pollutants in the atmosphere, the pH (a measure of how acidic/basic water is) of the rain water is further lowered, often to as low as 2.4 and this type of precipitation of lower pH is called acidic rain.
Formation of Acidic rain
Acid rain is the one phase of acid deposition which can either be wet or dry. It is the form of snow, dew, fog, frost and mist represent the wet form of deposition while dust particles containing sulphates and nitrates, settled on earth, and constitute dry deposition. However, the wet rain is much more common. Wet acid rain every source of energy that we use be it coal, fuel wood or petroleum products have sulphur and nitrogen. These two elements, when burnt in atmospheric oxygen, they become converted into their respective oxides (SO2 and NO2) which are highly soluble in water. By anthropogenic and natural sources, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen enter the atmosphere. In case of nitrogen, following reaction, following involved under humid condition of air N2O5 invariably with vapours to form droplet of HNO3. Some HNO2 are also formed. HNO3 and HNO2 are then dropped to the earth's surface. However, HNO3 can be removed as a particulate nitrates after reaction with bases such as NH3. SO3 in humid atmosphere forms droplets of H2SO4. This HNO3 and H2SO4 formed combined with HCL (emitted from natural and man made sources) to generate precipitation which is commonly referred to as acid rain.
What aggravate acidic rains?
Extreme wind can aggravate acidic rain. The oxides of sulphur and nitrogen are swept up into the atmosphere and travel thousands of kilometers. The longer they stay in the air, the more likely they are to be oxidized into acids. For instance, a given molecules of SO2 may remain in the atmosphere up to 40 hours. While a sulphate particles may remain for three weeks. They have enough long life periods and so these molecules may be transported several kilometer from their point of release and aggravate the existence of acidic rain.
Effects of Acidic rain
Acidic rain exerts both direct and indirect effect on both organisms and materials it comes into contact with. The direct effects of rain are determined by concentration of pollutants in the air. They are mainly of local nature with a geographical extent of few kms. They decline rapidly with distance from the emission sources. They affect organisms and material and cause more harm at a distance and some thousands of kms. The dry deposition has several direct effects on environment. It attacks building materials, principally, limestone, marble, steel, nickel and other metals causing loss of millions of dollars spent in making structures like statues and buildings. When deposited in gases, it causes direct damage to plants and trees, the visible injury being gradual yellowing of leaf tissues (chlorosis).
The wet deposition has direct as well as indirect effects. It increases the acidity of lakes and rivers which is made worse inflow of acids and metals from nearby soils. Wet deposition also affects aquatic as well as territorial ecosystems. Vast tracts of forests and lakes in Europe and North America are being destroyed by acidic rain. Wet deposition can transport metals such as Al, Cd, Hg and Cr into soil water, ground water, lakes and streams, depleting the stocks of nutrients in the soil, there by causing harm to various ecosystems. Acidity kills fish, algae, bacteria and aquatic system gets collapsed into the sterility leaving a crystal clear but ultimately a dead lock. Accordingly, a number of acidic precipitation victims were identified by scholars like aquatic biota, lake ecosystem, buildings, human beings.
Acid rain effects on Aquatic Biota
Reduce fish population accompanied by decreasing the variety of species in food chain. There are 15,000 lakes with no living fish population in Sweden and 100 such lakes in the Adirondack region of USA, because of increased acidity of lakes. It create a big exposure to be unfavourable pH levels which was not appropriate for fishes reproductive process, many algae and bacteria will be killed due to acidity, disrupting the whole ecological balance, destroy tree (in west Germany 10 percent of forests perished and 18 millions acres of forests are severely affected), and actual nutrients like calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium have leched a way from soil by acids. It also destroy crops and forest reducing agricultural productivity, retarded the growth of crops like pea, beans, radish, potato, spinash, broccoli, carrots etc. Similarly, in Japan 5000sq kms cedar trees were affected by high acidic deposition.
Acidic rain effects on the ecosystem of lakes
It causes a number of complication in ponds, rivers and lakes where it accumulates as acidic snow. In summer time, rapid snow melting gives a jolt of acid water to lakes that cause the death of a number of Young fishes, algae and insects including discharging food chain. Black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies and other aquatic worms occur abundantly where fishes are eliminated. So, they appear to thrive in acid condition. Dragon fly larvae and water boatmen also flourished in acidified lakes. Moreover, the activity of bacteria and other microscopic animals is reduced in acidic water. So the dead materials and other accumulated substance lying on the bottom of lakes are rapidly decomposed. Thus essential nutrients as nitrogen and phosphorus stay locked up in plant and animal remains. Biomass production is reduced and fish population declines. Aquatic plants like broad leaved trees and weeds do not grow in acidic water.
Acid rain effects on buildings:
Acid rain causes extensive damage on building and structural materials of marble, limestone and slate. Limestone could be attacked rapidly and attacks of marble termed as stone leprosy. In Greece and Italy, invaluable stone have been partially dissolved by acid rain. Further, as a result, ever year, 1450 millions of dollars are lost around the world. For instance Taj Mahal in Arga and British Parliaments Building have also suffered damage of H2SO4. Due to acidity, levels of heavy metals like Al, Mn, Pb, Cd, Cr, and Cu in water increased beyond the safe limits which indirectly affects the buildings. Traces of radio active elements present in radioactive rain severely damage buildings.
Effects of Acid rain on human beings
Acidic rain has been found to be very dangerous to the living organisms as it can destroy life. Acidity can play havoc with nervous system, respiratory system and digestive system by making the person vulnerable to neurological diseases. This happens because these acids produce highly toxic compounds which contaminate the portable water and enter man's body. It also contain air pollutants contribute to a variety of safety hazards, associated with reduced visibility due to smog. Here I tried to familiarize you some core points on how acidic rain is formed, aggravated and also affects the world and living things.
Eventually, as a journalist I would like to applaud Japan's government measure to protect acidic rain effects. [Because] currently, acidic rain measuring kit are available. As to my source, when a chemical is placed in small plastic container and acid rain falls on it, the colour changes and hence the acidity content of the rain can be read. As it had been in Northern Europe and Northern America, it has become significantly noticeable in Japan. Similarly, Japan's Environment Agency has established a national monitoring network and records from 1994 show that pH values in rain fall in 28 place averaged 4.8 and acidic rain fall reported in both urban and rural areas ranging between pH 4.5 to 5.8 .
Therefore, I do have one question for all of us. Are we strong enough to protect such kind of acidic rain effects? What have we been doing to protect our renewable and non-renewable environmental resources? Specially, what our stakeholders, professionals, expertise, researchers, authoritative bodies as well as national and international private sector actors have been doing in their respective roles to withstand the effects of acidic rain? Have the aforementioned effects and signs of acidic rain been observed in your country yet?
Actually, a number of horrible events have been occurring around the world because of acidic rain. For instance, drought, flood starvation and the likes are the direct and indirect results or effects of acidic rain fall. Therefore, we have to be united and get hand to hand so as to protect this as well as the next generation from negative effects of acidic rain.

Acid Rain Facts: The Effects of Chemicals on the Environment and People

Generally speaking, acid rain is any type of precipitation – rain, snow, fog – that contains a high level of nitric or sulfuric acids. Some of this can be caused by natural phenomenon such as volcanic eruptions and even gases emitted by large amounts of rotting vegetation. However, most acid rain comes from human activities, according to National Geographic.
The primary cause is the burning of fossil fuels. This process releases sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere. When these chemical interact with water and oxygen, the reaction forms a solution of sulfuric and nitric acids that falls back to Earth.
These chemicals then move over the planet’s surface along with rain water, sometimes flowing into water systems and also seeping into the soil.
And while the term acid rain is best known, about half of these chemicals come back to Earth as “dry deposition” via dust or smoke, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In this form, the chemicals stick to places such as buildings, cars and homes, and eventually get washed off by falling rain, which turns it more acidic.

The Effects of Acid Rain

The most damaging effect of acid rain is typically the contamination of bodies of water – lakes, rivers, streams and wetland areas, according to National Geographic. Acidic waters absorb the aluminum that runs into waterways from the soil, turning the water toxic for many aquatic animals, including crayfish, clams and fish.
This then affects the food chain – non-aquatic animals, such as certain species of birds, are affected by the lack of food in the waterways. In extreme cases, acid rain can lead to “dead lakes,” where most living orgasms no longer thrive.

Vegetation also can be harmed, with acid rain suffusing the soil with aluminum, making it more difficult for plants to absorb needed nutrients.

Effects on Human Health

There are other, perhaps lesser known, affects, according to the EPA.
For example, reports through the years have shown examples of acid rain corroding paint on automobiles, leaving patterns that are irregularly shaped and permanent. It’s easier to see on darker cars or under fluorescent lamps.
Humans are not harmed directly by acid rain, but the indirect damage can be substantial. The pollutants within acid rain can interact with atmospheric gases to create small flakes of particulate that can be inhaled deep into the lungs.
Many studies over the years have shown a correlation between these particles and increased likelihood of illnesses and premature death from lung and heart issues, according to the EPA.

How to Reduce Acid Rain

Stated simply: the fewer chemicals ejected into the air through the burning of fossil fuels, the less chance of acid rain or dry deposition.
Since the burning of fossil fuels continues, the EPA has several suggestions. They include regular cleaning of smokestacks used in operations that burn coal, natural gas and oil, which involves the installation of scrubbers in smokestacks.
Another method is the ongoing effort by both private industry and many governments to find viable alternative energy sources – wind, solar, geothermal and hydro, for example.
The EPA also notes that there are ongoing projects to restore areas damaged by acid rain.
Individuals can also help by using the same steps that are recommended for using less energy in your home – less energy consumed, fewer fossil fuels burned. Example include turning off lights, computers and appliances when they are not being used, installing more energy-efficient appliances, using heating and air conditioning less, insulating your home and carpooling.
While the effects of acid rain are still present, the hope is these steps will help reduce the problem and that efforts to restore areas harmed by acid rain will continue to see success.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What Is Acid Rain: Tips For Safeguarding Plants From Acid Rain Damage

Acid rain has been an environmental buzzword since the 1980s, even though it started falling from the sky and eating through lawn furniture and ornaments as early as the 1950s. Although common acid rain isn’t acidic enough to burn skin, the effects of acid rain on plant growth can be dramatic. If you live in an acid rain-prone area, read on to learn about safeguarding plants from acid rain. What is Acid Rain? Acid rain forms when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide react with chemicals like water, oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to form sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Water containing these acidic compounds falls back to the earth as rain, harming plants and other immobile objects below. Although the acid from acid rain is weak, normally no more acidic than vinegar, it can seriously alter the environment, damaging plants and aquatic ecosystems.

 Does Acid Rain Kill Plants?

This is a straightforward question with a not very straighten forward answer. Acid rain and plant damage go hand in hand in areas prone to this type of pollution, but the changes to a plant’s environment and tissues are gradual. Eventually, a plant exposed to acid rain will die, but unless your plants are incredibly sensitive, the acid rain unusually potent and frequent or you’re a very bad gardener, the damage is not fatal. The way that acid rain damages plants is very subtle. Over time, the acidic water alters the pH of the soil where your plants are growing, binding and dissolving vital minerals and carrying them away. As the soil pH falls, your plants will suffer increasingly obvious symptoms, including yellowing between the veins on their leaves. Rain that falls on leaves can eat away the outer waxy layer of tissue that protects the plant from drying out, leading to the destruction of the chloroplasts that drive photosynthesis. When a lot of leaves are damaged at once, your plant may become very stressed and attract a host of pests and diseases organisms.

Safeguarding Plants from Acid Rain 

The best way to protect plants from acid rain is to prevent rain from falling on them, but with larger trees and shrubs this may be impossible. In fact, many experts recommend planting more tender specimens under large trees to protect them from damage. Where trees aren’t available, moving these delicate plants to gazebos or covered porches will do. When all else fails, some thick plastic draped over stakes surrounding the plant can hold off acid damage, provided that you place and remove the covers promptly. The soil is another matter entirely. If you live in an area where acid rain is common, soil testing every six to 12 months is a good idea. Frequent soil tests will alert you to problems in the soil so you can add extra minerals, nutrients or lime when necessary. Staying one step ahead of acid rain is vital to keeping your plants healthy and happy. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Chemtrails Or Acid Rain ?

Chemtrails or Acid Rain ? - The Birth Of Two Myths

The idea that acid rain is some sort of hoax or scam is ludicrous. Sulfuric acid and its environmental effects have been known since ancient historical times. If acid rain is a hoax, then the ancient Sumerians and Greeks were certainly in on it. Modern science has been accumulating facts about environmental damage caused by sulfuric acid since at least 1736, when sulfuric acid was first produced industrially in Britain. When deniers of anthropogenic global warming claim that acid rain is a hoax they demonstrate, not their knowledge of science, but their political preferences, as here for example.

The chemtrail nonsense is an idea put forward by people who would rather believe a conspiracy theory than the physical laws of the universe.  Apparently, some mysterious "they" are putting chemicals in aircraft fuel for nefarious purposes.  The less extreme theories suggest that "they" are using HAARP to turn the atmosphere into a plasma, and as proof just look at the pretty colors in the clouds. Perhaps these people live in the perpetual haze of cities and have thus never seen rainbows in clouds.

If a plane is 'pumping out chemicals', other than the normal by-products of clean combustion, then maybe one or more engines need attention.  What is more likely, however is that "they" are testing new fuels and new engines.  If "they" want to dose the world at large with mind-altering substances they can sell it on street-corners for profit, rather than bribe tens of thousands of people to look the other way while the proverbial man in black puts something in a fuel tank.

A brief history of the science and politics of acid rain.

There are some people who want you to think that acid rain is a hoax.  In their eagerness to "prove" their "theory" ( aka something they just made up ) they generally start talking about how the hoax began in the 1970s or late 1960s.  Certainly the term acid rain came into wide use in the 1970s, but the fact of acid rain was known much earlier.  When coal is burned, one of the many byproducts of combustion is sulfur dioxide.  This combines with atmospheric moisture to form sulfurous acid.  That acid, if it combines with water, turns into sulfuric acid.  That's the same acid - but much more dilute - which you get in the lead-acid battery.

As an aside I might mention that one of many methods for determining the environmental effects of airborne acid employed a measuring device which utilized the same reaction that damages lead-acid batteries: sulfation.  The degree of sulfation of a lead(IV)oxide surface exposed to air for a month is a measure of the corrosive effects of that air.  That proxy method was used in the 1930s to measure the effects of coal smoke in Britain.

How can sulfur trioxide and sulfuric acid affect my health?

To protect the public from the harmful effects of toxic chemicals and to find ways to treat people who have been harmed, scientists use many tests.
One way to see if a chemical will hurt people is to learn how the chemical is absorbed, used, and released by the body; for some chemicals, animal testing may be necessary. Animal testing may also be used to identify health effects such as cancer or birth defects. Without laboratory animals, scientists would lose a basic method to get information needed to make wise decisions to protect public health. Scientists have the responsibility to treat research animals with care and compassion. Laws today protect the welfare of research animals, and scientists must comply with strict animal care guidelines.

Sulfuric acid and other acids are very corrosive and irritating and cause direct local effects on the skin, eyes, and respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts when there is direct exposure to sufficient concentrations. Breathing sulfuric acid mists can result in tooth erosion and respiratory tract irritation. Drinking concentrated sulfuric acid can burn your mouth and throat, and it can erode a hole in your stomach; it has also resulted in death. If you touch sulfuric acid, it will burn your skin. If you get sulfuric acid in your eyes, it will burn your eyes and cause them to water. The term "burn" used in these sections refers to a chemical burn, not a physical burn resulting from contacting a hot object. People have been blinded by sulfuric acid when it was thrown in their faces.

Breathing small droplets of sulfuric acid at levels that might be in the air on a day with high air pollution may make it more difficult to breathe. This effect is more likely to occur if you have been exercising or if you have asthma. This effect may also be more likely to occur in children than adults. Breathing sulfuric acid droplets may affect the ability of your respiratory tract to remove other small particles that you have inhaled. If you breathe sulfur trioxide, it turns into sulfuric acid in your upper respiratory tract, and the effects you may experience will be similar to those of sulfuric acid inhalation.

Studies in people who breathed high concentrations of sulfuric acid at work have shown an increase in cancers of the larynx. However, most of the cancers were in smokers who were also exposed to other acids and other chemicals. There is no information that exposure to sulfuric acid by itself is carcinogenic. The carcinogenicity of sulfuric acid has not been studied in animals. The EPA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have not classified sulfur trioxide or sulfuric acid for carcinogenic effects. Based on very limited human data, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) believes that evidence is sufficient to state that occupational exposure to strong inorganic acid mists containing sulfuric acid is carcinogenic to humans. IARC has not classified pure sulfuric acid for its carcinogenic effects. 

How can sulfur trioxide and sulfuric acid affect children?

This section discusses potential health effects from exposures during the period from conception to maturity at 18 years of age in humans. Potential effects on children resulting from exposures of the parents are also considered.

Children may be exposed to sulfur trioxide and sulfuric acid in the same manner as adults, with the exception of chemical encounters in the workplace. Sulfur trioxide is only used in industry as an intermediate in the production of chemicals such as sulfuric acid and quickly converts to sulfuric acid when it contacts water in air. Therefore, children will most likely only be at risk of exposure from sulfuric acid, not sulfur trioxide. Exposure to sulfuric acid may occur through skin contact, eye contact, ingestion, and breathing contaminated air. Sulfuric acid can cause severe skin burns, it can burn the eyes, burn holes in the stomach if swallowed, irritate the nose and throat, and cause difficulties breathing if inhaled.

Exposure to sulfuric acid from accidental contact with or misuse of sulfuric acid-containing consumer products is the most likely way your child could be exposed. Household products that contain sulfuric acid include drain and toilet bowl cleaners, and some acid car batteries. The national estimate (derived by United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, USCPSC) for injuries related to drain cleaners over a 5-year period ending January 1996 is between 2,800 and 3,150 injuries per year. Inquisitive toddlers may get into unsealed or improperly stored containers of sulfuric acid-containing products. Transfer of cleaning agents containing sulfuric acid into containers not designed for their storage can allow leakage from the container. Improper flushing of areas recently cleaned with a sulfuric acid-containing product can lead to inadvertent skin exposure to both children and adults.

While younger children are most at risk from accidental swallowing, skin contact, or eye contact with sulfuric acid in household products, teenagers might have jobs in which they may contact sulfuric acid. If teenagers must use acid cleaners in their jobs or work in car repair where they may contact car batteries, they might be exposed. Furthermore, there have been reports of older children using sulfuric acid-containing solutions as weapons, thereby causing severe skin damage when intentionally splashed on others.

Small droplets of sulfuric acid may exist in the outdoor air. You and your children have the greatest chances of inhaling the compound during times of high air pollution with sulfuric acid. This may lead to difficulty breathing. If you live near electrical, metal processing, or paper processing industries, you may also have a greater chance of exposure to sulfuric acid. When sulfuric acid is inhaled into the lungs in the form of small droplets that exist in air, these droplets are deposited within the lung and the ability of your respiratory tract to remove other small, unwanted particles may be decreased. A study has shown that children can have greater deposition of sulfuric acid in their lungs than adults due to children's smaller airway diameters. Also, because children breathe more air per kilogram of body weight than adults, children may take in more sulfuric acid when they breathe the same contaminated air. Increased sensitivity has been witnessed in both animal studies with young guinea pigs and in human studies of asthmatic adolescents. This evidence suggests that children may be more vulnerable than adults to the health effects associated with breathing sulfuric acid.

No studies examining effects on unborn children following a mother's exposure to sulfuric acid during pregnancy were identified in humans. Limited evidence in animals indicates that sulfuric acid is not a hazard to unborn children. Birth defects have not been observed in animals that breathed high levels of sulfuric acid mist. Exposing pregnant rabbits to sulfuric acid did not significantly affect the body weights or cause malformations in their offspring. Again, because sulfuric acid causes adverse effects at its point of contact with the body, the acid, as such, is not expected to be absorbed or distributed throughout the body. Sulfuric acid is not expected to be transported across a mother's placenta into her developing baby or into breast milk. Therefore, an exposed mother most likely will not threaten her unborn or nursing child. Since sulfuric acid's effects occur at the point of contact, it is not likely that it will reach a mother's egg or father's sperm. Therefore, parents exposure to sulfuric acid or sulfur trioxide should not affect their unborn children. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Food chains affected by acid rain

Acid Rain affects our lives much more than you think. Acid rain is rainfall made with acid from our atmospheric pollution. It is one of the after affects of having a polluted atmosphere.

Acid Rain effects every single being on earth. It has a detrimental effect on wildlife and the natural environments such as forest lakes and ponds.  

As shown in the picture above a food chain works from the bottom to top. The grass is eaten by the rabbits, the rabbits are eaten by the snakes and the snakes are eaten by the hawk.

When Acid rain enters the system it first starts from the producers such as grass, trees and flowers. Then once the Consumers such as small animals, insects eat the grass the acid rain levels grow larger. 

For example, the insects that the fish in the birds mouth must have had some sort of contact with acid rain. Weather it ate the insects on the surface of the water or simply used the acidic water from the river to breathe, the fish was contaminated with acidic water. Once the bird digests the fish it will now have a higher concentration of the acidic water because of biomagnification.

Now here is how we are affected by the acidic rain. Humans are just a vulnerable as any other animal, we are on the food chain as well. Same as the bird we are eating the fish. Once we eat the fish we will be contaminated. With the biomagnification in place we have the higher risk of suffering from the contamination seeing as humans are at the top of the food chain.

The pH of rain water is suppose to be 7 but in very industrial places where the pollutants get into the air, the pH is almost always less than 5 which can be very dangerous for any wildlife around the area. The acidity in the water is mostly from dissolved CO2.   2H2O(l) + 3CO2(g) --> 2H2CO3(aq) This is the balanced equation of what happens in the clouds to create the acidic water.

For humans we do have the ability to last longer than most animals and if not we do have health facilities. In the wild birds and animals are on their own. The concentration in some animals is so high that within a few days after eating the contaminated animal they die. It is a harsh reality but in the end it is humans to blame. Putting pollutants in the air does create climate change but it also does create pollutants that travel through rain and into our lakes and streams. In the end it is all connected what goes around comes around. We put the pollutants in the air and the pollutants come right back.

Acid Rain How To Affect In Climate And Weather

Acid rain is caused when acid gases rise into the sky and mix with the clouds, this causes the clouds ‘absorb’ the acid gasses and when the clouds produce rain, it falls with a higher than normal level of acidity. Rain is naturally acidic, but acid gasses make it even more acidic. Acid gasses are mainly caused by humans burning fossil fuels like coal and oil; but nature also creates these gasses with volcanoes.

The opposites of acid are alkalis; for example, toothpaste and baking powder are both alkalis. Strong alkalis can also be dangerous, such as ammonia and bleach.

The ph scale is used to measures the strength of acids and alkalis. A low ph number lets us know that a substance is acid; a high number lets us know that a substance is alkali.

Rain is normally a bit acidic, with a ph of around 5.5, if the ph of rain is below 5.5, then the rain is most likely contaminated by acid gases.

Gasses that cause acid rain are sulphur and nitrogen. When these gasses mix with the oxygen and water vapour in the air it causes sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide to be formed. Most of the sulphur released into the atmosphere comes from power stations; volcanoes also produce lots of sulphur when they erupt. Most of the nitrogen oxides come from the vehicles people around the world travel in daily, from planes, cars and trucks.

Acid rain is a problem all over the world, when acid gases are released, they go up in the sky, and then they are carried by strong winds. Acid rain in Scandinavian countries is caused by air pollution in Britain and other countries of Europe. In the USA, winds blow the air pollution to certain areas in Canada.

When rain is acidic, it affects trees, lakes, buildings and agricultural land. Sometimes rain is not very acidic and does not cause a lot of problems, but when it is acidic, it can be very harmful to the environment.

The acid in acid rain drains important minerals from the leaves and the soil, and is very bad for plants, trees and agricultural land. If the soil is alkaline; when acid rain falls on it the acid becomes neutral and so the plants are not hugely affected, but it the soil is slightly acidic, it can be disastrous. When sufficient acid rain falls in to lakes and rivers, life can all but die out in a relatively short period of time depending on the mass of water.

Humans are affected when we breathe in air pollution, this can cause breathing problems, and even cancer. Drinking water which has been contaminated with acid rain can cause brain damage over time.

Acid rain also eats into stone and metal, so buildings can be affected by erosion over time, especially sandstone and limestone which are examples of soft stones.

How to Affect Acid Rain In Drinking water

Have you ever, as a kid, tried to catch a rain drop or snowflake, only to be scolded at: "That could be acid rain!"

Experts claim that all rain is actually acidic since the precipitation binds with carbon dioxide. But, the term 'acid rain' was coined from certain air pollutants merging. Sulfur dioxide combining with nitrogen oxides and react to the oxygen in the air is what makes sulfuric acid, which causes the acid precipitation- rain, snow or fog. Sulfur dioxide comes from industrial smelters and coal burning plants. Nitrogen oxides come from car exhaust systems and can even be created by lightning.

Dark CloudIt was found that while acidic precipitation does not affect human health directly; some particle matter associated with it has shown adverse health effects, particularly among those with respiratory disorders. There is also concern surrounding the idea that that acid rain could draw mercury from the ground, which could then be carried by runoff into bodies of water. Despite these findings however, a ten year study on acid rain revealed the effects are not as damaging as first thought, causing mainly aesthetic damage to buildings, changing the chemical balance of lakes and streams and also affecting some fish species. These are all reasons for concern, for example, we do not want monuments and other outdoor sites to be destroyed. Paint, iron, zinc and steel structures are most likely to be affected. However, at least we know as humans we should not be scared as we once were.

The Clean Air Act of 1990 has made positive strides in reducing the amount of sulfur dioxides in the air. The government now regulates the amount of these chemicals that can be released into the air. Also, since this problem affects the Northeast more so than other parts of the country, the government is also working with Eastern Canada to help eliminate the toxins from the air. Each state has an allowance they can release each year.

Acid raid doesn't do too much to affect the water supply. However, some folks, either at home if they do not have a well or when camping, use the rain water catch method. Obviously, drinking water right after it is collected would be a bad idea. Boiling the water and perhaps using a disinfectant will make the water safe for consumption. Other than that, if water supplies are coming from a lake or stream that has acid rain buildup, chances are, the local water company is monitoring the pH levels for the acidity of the supply. If there were a threat, they would instill a boiling alert. Also, coupled with the water supply's treatment system, having a home filtration system will be an extra hand against the acidic contaminants. Finally, if you have well water, you are likely to be contaminated. When you get your annual tests done on your water, you will be able to tell if the pH level has rose.

Acid rain continues to be under study. New facts are found out everyday. Stay tuned to your local water company's website or the EPA site for the latest information. Especially if you live in the industrial Northeast. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Acid Rain

Acid rain is the wet or dry deposition of acidic substances and their precursors on the Earth's surface. The ongoing industrialization of society has resulted in the increased release of acidic chemicals into the atmosphere. These chemicals are deposited as acid rain, impacting lakes, forests and human health.


Wet deposition refers to rain, snow, hail, drizzle and other familiar forms of visible precipitation. Dry deposition, mostly invisible, occurs through gravitational settling of large particles, and the uptake of gases and small particles at the Earth's surface. Rain and other precipitation may be defined as acidic or alkaline (basic) depending on the chemical composition. The degree of acidity is usually measured on the pH scale, a logarithmic measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) in precipitation. A neutral solution has a pH of seven. Acidic solutions have values below seven and basic solutions have values above seven. For each change of one pH unit, the hydrogen ion content changes by a factor of 10. A clean water sample in equilibrium with atmospheric carbon dioxide will have a value of 5.6, and this is often used as a definition of "clean" rain. When values differ from this, it means that other substances, either natural or man-made, are present in the rain.

Current annual measurements of the average pH of precipitation in the northern hemisphere range from about 4.0 to 7.0. The lower, highly acidic values occur primarily over, and immediately downwind, of urban and industrialized areas in North America, Europe and Asia. Higher pH values in precipitation are found over less industrialized regions where the atmosphere contains larger amounts of alkaline dust. The primary cause of low pH in precipitation over northeastern North America is sulphuric acid (H2SO4) from industrial and urban emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2). Nitric acid (HNO3) generated from emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) is a significant contributing factor in this region. In Canada, as in many other countries, the majority of NOx emissions are from transportation. Acid rain’s precursors, SO2 and NOx, can be transported thousands of kilometres through the atmosphere, returning to Earth as dry or wet deposition.

Emissions Over Time

Canadian emissions of SO2 in 2011 were 1.85 million tonnes, down from 2.2 million tonnes in 2006. As a point of comparison, in 2011 SO2 emissions in the US were 6.28 million tonnes, down from 12 million tonnes in 2006. Fuel for electricity and heating, as well as non-ferrous smelters (producing such metals as nickel and copper are the largest sources of SO2 emissions in Canada, followed closely by emissions produced by the oil and gas sector.

In terms of NOx emissions, Canada produced 1.94 million tonnes in 2011, compared to 2.3 million tonnes in 2006. The US produced about the same in 2011 (1.94 million tonnes), compared to 3.4 million tonnes in 2006. The largest sources of NOx emissions in Canada are transportation vehicles (including cars, trains, planes and boats), and the oil and gas industry.

Effects of Acid Rain

When acid rain reaches the Earth's surface, it can cause damage to aquatic ecosystems and buildings. Acid rain and its associated pollutants (SO2, NOx, sulphate particles and ozone) can also damage forests and crops, and there is evidence of adverse human health effects. The degree of effects depends on the acid-reducing capability of the receptor (e.g., vegetation, soils, rock, lakes and streams). In areas where this buffering capacity is low, like the Canadian Shield, acidic deposition over several years has led to increased acidity of rivers and lakes, and to the accelerated leaching of aluminum from soils. This is seen most in the surface waters of southeastern Canada, where acid rain levels are highest. However, SO2 emissions in western Canada have increased to the point that vulnerable lakes in this region may also be threatened.

Aquatic life is dependent on the balanced pH of surface waters. Once the pH falls below approximately 5.5, both the amount and diversity of vegetation, zooplankton, amphibians and fish decreases. The aluminum leached from soils may also be in a form that is toxic to aquatic organisms. Once the average pH of a lake drops to around 4.5, most fish populations are eradicated due to reproductive failure or the disappearance of suitable food sources. Fish populations in thousands of lakes in eastern North America and Scandinavia have declined or disappeared because of water acidification, and hundreds of thousands more are threatened. Rivers are impacted as well. This is seen in the marked decline of ATLANTIC SALMON in the Maritimes and in Scandinavia. Birds and other fish predators may decrease in numbers because of this reduced food supply.

Reductions in North American SO2 emissions could suggest that aquatic ecosystems will soon recover from acidification. However, this is not the case. Only lakes located near smelters with dramatically reduced emissions approach this expectation. Most lakes are only affected by long-range emissions and so far, they show relatively small increases in pH. This delay in the chemical recovery of lakes is due to several geochemical factors related to the storage or release of acids, or bases from the forest soils and wetlands that surround these lakes. Biological recovery in lakes does not necessarily follow chemical recovery. The only extensive evidence of biological recovery is in lakes from the Sudbury/Killarney region of Ontario.

The effects of acid rain and its associated pollutants on forests and agriculture are not as clear-cut, but are potentially serious. These include direct damage to plant foliage, seed germination failure, retardation of growth (particularly at early life stages), deterioration of plant roots associated with the leaching of soil constituents and, possibly, increased plant susceptibility to insects and diseases.

There are several potential effects of acid rain on human health. The lead, copper and other metals from water delivery pipes can leach and contaminate acidified drinking water. Increased concentrations of heavy metals in fish from acidified rivers and lakes can pose a problem for populations consuming significant quantities of these fish.

Control Methods

Methods available to reduce SO2 emissions include: the use of low-sulphur coal and oil; the removal of sulphur from fuel and feeder ore; the use of technologies that remove the SO2 at the source of emission, like flue-gas desulphurization techniques; energy conservation; and the use of alternative energy sources. North American techniques for controlling acid rain precursors focus primarily at reducing near-source air concentrations to levels necessary to avoid immediate and short-term impacts on human health (see Air Pollution). The installation of pollution control devices and the building of taller emission stacks were effective in achieving the goal of improved air quality in North American cities. However, the taller stacks disperse SO2 and NOx emissions over large regions, and the emission standards for the short-term protection of human health are inadequate for the protection of affected regional environments and longer-term human health.

Emissions of SO2 in both Canada and the US decreased through the early 1970s to the present as a result of the increased use of pollution control devices, the use of more low-sulphur fuels and the introduction of some nuclear power plants. These drops in SO2 emissions have reduced acid rain levels and allowed the chemical recovery of some eastern Canadian lakes, thereby demonstrating the potential effectiveness of further control actions. In the absence of new controls, and the expansion of SO2 emission sources (e.g., in western Canada), the cumulative acidification effects on regional environments remain a serious problem. In addition, there has been little reduction in NOx emissions over North America.

Setting Control Targets

In 1983, as a first step in controlling the effects of acid rain on surface waters, Canada adopted a target load of 20 kg of wet sulphate per hectare per year. It was estimated that a reduction of deposition rates to this value would protect moderately sensitive lake ecosystems and could be achieved by reducing North American SO2 emissions by about 50 percent. The eastern Canadian provinces and the federal government signed several federal-provincial agreements in 1987 aiming to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 1994. Since 1990, Canada has used a more precise standard called the "critical load." The critical load is the highest amount of pollutants an ecosystem can tolerate without exhibiting negative ecosystem effects. For lakes located on the Canadian Shield, the critical load is almost always less than the 1983 target load, and it varies spatially depending on the acid sensitivity of the surrounding terrain.

About one-half of the sulphate deposition in eastern Canada comes from SO2 sources in the US. Therefore, control action in the US was needed for Canada to achieve its target loading goal. After years of pressure from Canada, in November 1990 the United States government passed a new Clean Air Act promising to reduce SO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2000. The following year, the two nations signed the Canada-US Air Quality Agreement, which further codified the reductions in S02 and N0x emissions. In 1998, the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of Energy and Environment agreed to "The Canada-Wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post-2000," which has the long-term goal of reducing acid rain to meet the critical load standard. This means that much greater SO2 emission reductions than those presently required by legislation will be needed to promote widespread chemical and later, biological recovery.

In 1985, Canada signed the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) Helsinki Protocol to reduce its sulphur compounds (or the export of these compounds to other countries via the atmosphere) by 1993. In 1994, Canada signed the Oslo Protocol to cap sulphur emissions at 1.75 million tonnes in geographic regions contributing to acidification in Canada and the US. This area includes Ontario, Qu├ębec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Acid rain is but one manifestation of the increasing effects of human-made chemicals on the composition of the global atmosphere. Other anthropogenic effects associated with growing industrialization include Arctic haze, climate change and the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer (see Ozone Depletion). These changes in regional and global environments, and their socio-economic impacts, are attracting increasing international attention. 

Small volcanic eruptions could be slowing global warming

WASHINGTON, DC- Small volcanic eruptions might eject more of an atmosphere-cooling gas into Earth's upper atmosphere than previously thought, potentially contributing to the recent slowdown in global warming, according to a new study.

Scientists have long known that volcanoes can cool the atmosphere, mainly by means of sulfur dioxide gas that eruptions expel. Droplets of sulfuric acid that form when the gas combines with oxygen in the upper atmosphere can remain for many months, reflecting sunlight away from Earth and lowering temperatures. However, previous research had suggested that relatively minor eruptions-those in the lower half of a scale used to rate volcano "explosivity"-do not contribute much to this cooling phenomenon.

Now, new ground-, air- and satellite measurements show that small volcanic eruptions that occurred between 2000 and 2013 have deflected almost double the amount of solar radiation previously estimated. By knocking incoming solar energy back out into space, sulfuric acid particles from these recent eruptions could be responsible for decreasing global temperatures by 0.05 to 0.12 degrees Celsius (0.09 to 0.22 degrees Fahrenheit) since 2000, according to the new study accepted to Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

These new data could help to explain why increases in global temperatures have slowed over the past 15 years, a period dubbed the 'global warming hiatus,' according to the study's authors.

The warmest year on record is 1998. After that, the steep climb in global temperatures observed over the 20th century appeared to level off. Scientists previously suggested that weak solar activity or heat uptake by the oceans could be responsible for this lull in temperature increases, but only recently have they thought minor volcanic eruptions might be a factor.

Climate projections typically don't include the effect of volcanic eruptions, as these events are nearly impossible to predict, according to Alan Robock, a climatologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., who was not involved in the study. Only large eruptions on the scale of the cataclysmic 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines, which ejected an estimated 20 million metric tons (44 billion pounds) of sulfur, were thought to impact global climate. But according to David Ridley, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and lead author of the new study, classic climate models weren't adding up.

"The prediction of global temperature from the [latest] models indicated continuing strong warming post-2000, when in reality the rate of warming has slowed," said Ridley. That meant to him that a piece of the puzzle was missing, and he found it at the intersection of two atmospheric layers, the stratosphere and the troposphere- the lowest layer of the atmosphere, where all weather takes place. Those layers meet between 10 and 15 kilometers (six to nine miles) above the Earth.

Traditionally, scientists have used satellites to measure sulfuric acid droplets and other fine, suspended particles, or aerosols, that erupting volcanoes spew into the stratosphere. But ordinary water-vapor clouds in the troposphere can foil data collection below 15 km, Ridley said. "The satellite data does a great job of monitoring the particles above 15 km, which is fine in the tropics. However, towards the poles we are missing more and more of the particles residing in the lower stratosphere that can reach down to 10 km."

To get around this, the new study combined observations from ground-, air- and space-based instruments to better observe aerosols in the lower portion of the stratosphere.

Four lidar systems measured laser light bouncing off aerosols to estimate the particles' stratospheric concentrations, while a balloon-borne particle counter and satellite datasets provided cross-checks on the lidar measurements. A global network of ground-based sun-photometers, called AERONET, also detected aerosols by measuring the intensity of sunlight reaching the instruments. Together, these observing systems provided a more complete picture of the total amount of aerosols in the stratosphere, according to the study authors.

Including these new observations in a simple climate model, the researchers found that volcanic eruptions reduced the incoming solar power by -0.19 � 0.09 watts of sunlight per square meter of the Earth's surface during the 'global warming hiatus', enough to lower global surface temperatures by 0.05 to 0.12 degrees Celsius (0.09 to 0.22 degrees Fahrenheit). By contrast, other studies have shown that the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption warded off about three to five watts per square meter at its peak, but tapered off to background levels in the years following the eruption. The shading from Pinatubo corresponded to a global temperature drop of 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit).

Robock said the new research provides evidence that there may be more aerosols in the atmosphere than previously thought. "This is part of the story about what has been driving climate change for the past 15 years," he said. "It's the best analysis we've had of the effects of a lot of small volcanic eruptions on climate."

Ridley said he hopes the new data will make their way into climate models and help explain some of the inconsistencies that climate scientists have noted between the models and what is being observed.

Robock cautioned, however, that the ground-based AERONET instruments that the researchers used were developed to measure aerosols in the troposphere, not the stratosphere. To build the best climate models, he said, a more robust monitoring system for stratospheric aerosols will need to be developed.

Acid Rain: 10 quick facts on this catastrophic result of air pollution

Here is what it can do to land, humans and animals:
  • The sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that creates acid rain can cause diseases such as cancer, asthma and heart disease
  • Acid rain has many ecological effects. The worst effect it has is on lakes, streams, wetlands and other aquatic environments
  • Acid rain can kill a whole forest
  • It can destroy the leaves on the trees by cutting off their light and nutrient supply. It also change the acidity in the soil, making it impossible for trees and other plant life to grow
  • Acid rain changes the pH of water and makes the water toxic to the fish and other aquatic animals
  • As per reports, entire lakes have been declared dead because of acid rain
  • Acid rain has the same approximate pH as vinegar
  • Sulphur dioxide, the major contributor to acid rain, is the by-product of industrial products and is produced by burning fossil fuels
  • Most acid rains occur due to human activities
  • Stone buildings and monuments can also get damaged from acid rain.