Acid Rain - Essay

Topics: Oxygen, Sulfur, Acid rain Pages: 4 (1348 words) Published: February 14, 2012
Acid Rain
Acid rain, to our eyes, is not much different from regular rain, but the contents of that precipitation can be devastating to plant-life and ecosystems. Acid rain is formed in the atmosphere when gases such as sulfur dioxide are oxidized; sulfur trioxide is converted into sulfuric acid by a chemical reaction with water, or when nitrogen dioxide reacts with hydroxide to form nitric acid. The most oxidation reactions are with ozone, hydrogen peroxide, and of course, oxygen. There are many causes of acid rain, both natural and man-made sources of gases like dimethyl sulfide, which is the most abundant biological sulfur containing compound, and also nitrogen dioxide, but some sources are more plentiful than those.

Different things may contribute to the acidification of gases in the atmosphere. Volcanoes, for example, spew out sulfurous gases which are the main source of gases that are acidified. Fossil fuels that are burned contribute sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. Wild fires, surprisingly, also carry sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. There are also biological processes that occur in wetland and in the ocean that contribute to corrosive precipitation. The main sources though of sulfur containing compounds come from electricity generation plants and from motor vehicles. The electricity plants have made efforts to avoid acid rain, but there solution doesn’t really help anybody. They used to be equipped with the small and fat smoke stacks, like you might see on a large ship, which would pour sulfurous gases into the air and cause acid rain to devastate the surrounding environment. Now they have taller and thinner smoke stacks, but all this does is divert the effects of acid rain. Since these stacks are taller, they do not pour as much sulfur dioxide into the air that is directly surrounding the pipe; instead the sulfur dioxide is lifted high into the air and is swept away by a gust of wind or even just a breeze. These new stacks...
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