Science one world essay – Acid Rain
Acid rain has been an important global issue for centuries. Although most acid rain is caused by human activities, some acid rain occurs naturally. An example of natural acid rain is erupting volcanos, they give off smoke containing water vapor, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen compounds. The sulphur dioxide and nitrogen compounds cause small amounts of acid rain near the volcano. Pure water is not an acid, but even clean rainwater is slightly acidic. This is because it has carbon dioxide from the air dissolved in it. Rain is only called acid rain if it is more acid than normal. The main causes of acid rain are gases called sulphur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (Nox). These dissolve in the water in the atmosphere to make acids. Bright sunlight speed up the process. This makes the acid rain problem worse. (6) Acid deposition is anything acidic that comes down to the ground out of the air. Dry acid deposition is acid gases and particles. This make up about half the acid landing on the Earth. Acid rain is wet acid deposition, including rain, snow and fog that is more acid than normal. (2)
Cause of acid rain (10)
The history of acid rain caused by human activities began with the industrial Revolution in about 1750. This is when steam power began to be used to drive machinery. This was when large amounts of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and natural gas) began to be burnt in order to produce energy. The problem of acid rain became gradually worse until 20th century, scientists began to observe widespread environmental damage. Since the problem of acid rain is discovered, changes have been made to prevent further damage to the environment and to undo the existing damage. For example, vehicles exhaust fumes which contain large amounts of nitrogen oxides and some sulphur dioxide. Much has been done to reduce these since 1983 in United States and 1993 in Europe, new cars have been fitted with catalytic converters that reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides. Fuel companies have improved fuels so that they contain less sulphur and burn more completely. However, most developing countries such as China and India are still burning unclean fossil fuels for producing electricity, motor vehicles, industries and domestic furnaces and boilers. (1)
1) "Acid Rain's Effect On Plants And Wildlife." Essortment. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. . 2) "Acid Rain." National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. . 6) "How Acid Rain Works." HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. . 10) "Water." Government of Canada, Environment Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. .
Acid rain is mostly caused by industrial activities and by vehicle exhaust. However, there are not only industrial areas that are affected by acid rain. Many of the worse affected area are rural areas. Hundreds of kilometers from any industries. Industries have used tall chimneys to release the smoke high into the atmosphere. By the time the smoke sinks to the ground, it has spread over a large area. The gases are carried large distances by air currents. In low wind speeds or certain weather conditions that prevent the warm air rising, the polluting gases and particles stay near their source, therefore causing problems there. In higher wind speeds they can be carried hundreds of kilometers from their source. (1)
How acid rain is formed (5)
Trees destroyed by acid rain (2)
Acid rain has big impact to humans, plants, animals and the environment. Some of the gases contain tiny pollutants (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) can be inhaled by humans and can go deep into their lungs, this makes the inside of the lungs sore and may cause diseases (e.g. asthma and bronchitis). People can die from these illnesses and may have related diseases such as heart disease caused by the lung damage. When there is a temperature inversion, air...
1) Morgan, Sally. Acid Rain. New York: Franklin Watts, 1999. Print.
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