Acid Rain

Topics: Acid rain, Sulfur dioxide, Sulfuric acid Pages: 3 (1151 words) Published: October 14, 2013
The intent of this paper is to educate individuals about acid rain, define its chemical makeup, and describe its impact on the environment.

Rain is an important part of all life; it is the source of water for almost everything. In some areas rain is actually a threat to life because of pollution from cars, factories, and power plants. This pollution releases gases into the atmosphere to create acid rain. Acid rain is rain, or any other form of precipitation that is uncharacteristically acidic, which means that it possesses a high level of hydrogen ions. This elevated level can have a harmful effect on many different things in the ecosystem. Acid rain poses a serious environmental problem that affects large parts of northeastern United States, and southeastern Canada, as well as parts of Europe (Briney). It has taken such a toll on the environment that government agencies have attempted to make efforts to reduce the amount of pollutants that are released into the atmosphere.

Acid rain, or acid precipitate, is any form of precipitation that has high levels of sulfuric and nitric acids (Briney). Acid precipitate does not always have to be rain, it can be in the form of snow, fog, and small particles of dry material that settle to earth. Rotting vegetation, and erupting volcanoes release some chemicals that can naturally cause acid rain, but most acid rain is caused by human activities. The biggest human activity that produces acid rain is the burning of fossil fuels by coal burning power plants, factories, and automobiles (EPA).

When industrial factories and power plants burn fossil fuels, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NO) are released into the atmosphere. These chemicals react with water and oxygen to form mild solutions of nitric acid (HNO3), and sulfuric acid (H2SO4), as shown below (EPA). Decomposing vegetation release carbon dioxide, which mixes with water to form carbonic acid (H2CO3), also shown below (EPA).

SO2 + O2 = SO3SO3 + H2O =...
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