What is Acid Rain?
Acid rain is precipitation from the higher atmosphere to the ground in the rain, snow, fog, hail, or even dust, including acidic components such as Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen dioxide (NOx).
The range of the acidity of the acid rain varies from 7 to 5.7 pH. The most acidic rain was recorded in the United States in 2000, and it had a pH of 4.3.
What causes Acid Rain?
There are two leading causes of acid rain- natural processes and human activities. Natural processes such as volcanoes and rotting vegetation constitute a tiny portion of SO2 and NOx whereas, power stations, factories, and cars emit a significant amount of SO2 and NOx.
The sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emitted by the industries enter the atmosphere. These gases react with the minute droplets of water in the clouds in oxygen, carbon dioxide, and sunlight to form sulfuric and nitric acids.
Electric power generation constitutes 69% of total SO2 emissions in the U.S. in 2007 and 20% of NOx, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).
These gases originate in concentrated industrial areas and cross long distances thanks to the prevailing winds making acid rain a problem to everyone, including forests and lakes in the countryside. Thus, acid rain a global crisis.
Effects of Acid Rain
Acid rain affects the whole ecosystem, including plants, animals, rivers, lakes, buildings, monuments, and statues.
- In plants, acid rain dissolves the protective film on the leaves, which affects their growth.
- Most fish species can't survive a water pH of below 5. According to the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, when the pH becomes a 4, the lake is considered dead.
- Metal structures and vehicles become corroded, and limestone buildings, tombstones, statues, and monuments deteriorate faster when rain is acidic.