Acid Rain and Its Chemistry

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Acid Rain and its Chemistry

Acid rain is a type of pollution that is becoming a major threat to our planet and is need of attention. Acid rain has significantly increased ever since the industrial revolution, and now around the world, countries like Russia, China, and those in Europe are facing increasing levels of acidity in their rain. Not only is it becoming more acidic but it is also spreading by the pumping of sulfuric gasses deeper into the atmosphere from of the use of taller smokestacks at factories, which were made to reduce acid rain in local areas. Acid rain, is basically any precipitation like rain, fog or snow that is abnormally acidic with a pH around 5 - 5.5. Although pure water has a pH of 7, unpolluted rainwater has a pH of 5.6 – 6 because of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reacting with the water and forming a weak carbonic acid. The acidity in the precipitations (rain, snow, fog) come from gasses released into the atmosphere by industrial factories, the combustion of fossil fuels, and even volcanoes. These gasses, sulfur dioxide and various nitrogen oxides, chemically react with the water vapors and oxygen in the atmosphere forming acidic vapors that will eventually rain back down on people, cities, and the environment.

Normal rain water is a little acidic because of the presence of carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide reacts with the water molecules to form a very weak acid named carbonic acid. Once this acid mixes with water it can then ionize to form low concentration ions that won’t corrode or damage. The process of the sulfuric gasses and nitrogen containing gasses to acid rain is much different and varies in complexity. For nitrogen dioxide, the only one thing has to happen and that is that it has to react with hydroxide to form nitric acid and then mix with the water molecules. Sulfur dioxide is a little more complicated and long. First the sulfur dioxide has to also react with hydroxide and then with oxygen to form sulfur trioxide...
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