By: Dan Anderson
The Causes of Acid Rain, and its Effect on Plants
There are many things that can cause harm to the planet and people. Of these things, Acid Rain is a large contributor. Acid rain has multiple causes, and affects a myriad of plants. Acid rain is term used to describe numerous ways that acids drop out of the atmosphere. A more accurate term is acid deposition, which falls into two categories: wet and dry.
What is Wet deposition? Wet deposition pertains to acidic rain, fog, and snow. As the acidic water runs along and into the ground, it affects a variety of plants. The effects depend on many factors, including pH of the water, the chemical makeup and ability of the soil involved to deal with the acidity. The types of fish, trees, and other living things that rely on the water are also affected differently (What is Acid Rain…).
What is Dry deposition? Dry deposition pertains to acidic gases and particulates. About 50 percent of the acidity in the air falls back to the ground through dry deposition. The wind blows these particulates and gases onto buildings, cars, homes, and trees. Dry deposited gases and particulates can be washed from trees and other surfaces by future rainstorms. When that occurs, the excess water adds those acids to the acid rain, making the mixture more acidic than the rain originally was. (What is Acid Rain…).
Acid rain is caused by several different things. The emissions from automobiles, gas powered motors, and electric power plants are a major cause of acid deposition. When the fossil fuels are burned they release sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX). When these gases react in the atmosphere with water and oxygen, it creates an acidic solution. (See appendix 1) The mixture is a mild solution of sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Sunlight also speeds up the reaction. This solution has a pH of 3-5. The pH of normal water is...