Acid Rain: The Killer Rain
April 5, 2011
Every time you turn on the television or take a ride in a car, you could be contributing to a problem called acid rain. Acid Rain is a serious problem with devastating effects. Every day this problem increases. Many believe that this issue is too small to deal with, but if the acid rain problem is not met with head on, the effects on people, plants, animals, and the economy will only worsen. In the following paragraphs you will learn what acid rain is, the effect it has on human life, animals, the economy, the economic costs, and what is being done to help to stop this problem. This topic is very important because acid rain affects everyone everywhere all over the world.
Acid Rain: The Killer Rain
Within this past century, acidity of the air and acid rain has become recognized as one of the leading threats to our planet's environment. No longer limited by geographic boundaries, acid causing emissions are causing problems all over the world. Some laws have been passed which limit the amount of pollutants that are released into the air, but tougher legislation must be implemented before this problem can be overcome. Rain is one of the most vital elements for human and animal life. The water provided by rain allows all life on Earth to survive. Although rain is naturally acidic, it is being increasingly acidified by pollution from homes, factories, power stations and cars. The term used to describe this problem is “acid rain”. Acid rain hasn’t just occurred in the last twenty to thirty years. In fact a chemist named Robert Smith found rainfall in Manchester, U.K., to be very acidic. This was over 100 years ago (Wikipedia, n.d.). Some air pollution as a matter of fact comes from natural sources, but most is human made. The burning of oil and coal by plants and factories, homes and cars, is the main source of chemicals that cause acid rain. Power stations and factories emit large amounts of sulfur dioxide and also nitrogen oxides, whilst car exhausts contain large amounts of nitrogen oxides. When volcanoes erupt, they emit various gases which have been trapped under the ground, including sulfur dioxide. This can cause air pollution, which can then be made much worse by the addition of human-made emissions. The air in many towns and cities is overfull of harmful pollutants. In the northern hemisphere sulfur emissions are decreasing steadily, due to pollution controls in industry. What is acid rain? Acid rain is the combination of two chemicals released into the atmosphere. These chemicals are sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (Nox). Natural sources such as volcanoes, sea spray, rotting vegetation and plankton are all contributors to acid rain, but burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil which are referred to as dry emissions are largely to blame for more than half of the emissions into the world. Many power plants burn fuels in order to create the electricity that we use in our homes and offices every day. Cars and trucks also send these gases into the air when they burn gasoline. Acid rain damages everything that it touches. It causes acidification of lakes and streams and contributes to damage of trees at high elevations (for example, red spruce trees above 2,000 feet in elevation). In addition, acid rain accelerates the decay of building materials and paints, including irreplaceable buildings, statues, and sculptures that are part of our nation's cultural heritage, contributes to human respiratory diseases, leach toxic metals (such as lead and mercury) from soils and rocks into lakes used as sources of drinking water. And acidic particles in the air can decrease visibility (EPA, 2002). Surface Water
As this acidic liquid flows into larger bodies of water, it is diluted but over time, acids can accrue and lower the overall pH of the body. Acid deposition also causes clay...