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.