Acid Rain

902 Words 4 Pages
Acid rain is any form of precipitation that is extremely acidic, causing harmful effects on the environment. The unusual acidity of acid rain is caused by the high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids in the atmosphere, generated mostly by human activities but also by natural activities. This document will describe the process of acid rain from creation to the effects it has on the environment.
Chemical Sources In the formation of acid rain, natural and human-made sources are known to play a role. Human activities are the primary contributor of chemical emissions leading to acid rain, mainly nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. Human-made contributors include the burning of fossil fuels by coal-burning power plants, factories and automobiles.
…show more content…
Acid rain can cause problems to aquatic environments as well as fragile ecosystems. Most precipitation that enters a lake, river, stream, or marsh must go through the soil first. Soils contain a buffering capacity, the ability to resist changes in acidity and alkalinity. (HowStuffWorks) If the buffering capacity is low, the soil cannot neutralize the increased acidity and the acid rain passes through and leaches into the water systems, where it will accumulate within the body of water and lower its pH. Normally, life thrives in an approximately neutral pH. However, when the pH level strays too far from 7.0, the neutral level, the ecosystem starts to take damage as fragile organisms begin to die. Invertebrates and planktons are sensitive to changes to the acidity caused by acid rain and die first. Other organisms will start dying off as their weaker food sources die out. As the acid rain disrupts the food chain by affecting various populations of species, biodiversity decreases, and species without predators will grow dangerously large. Acid rain also affects forests by leaving trees vulnerable to disease, extreme weather and insects through the destruction of leaves, bark and halting growth. Acid rain can damage structures such as buildings and statues, especially those that contain calcium carbonate, such as limestone. The acid reacts with the calcium compounds, creating gypsum which comes off. Acid rain causes metals such as iron and bronze to have an increased corrosion rate. This all leads to structures being more susceptible to decay and failure. Also, acid rain can cause adverse effects on the human body through the inhalation of acidic particles from acidic deposition, causing lung and heart problems, like bronchitis and

Related Documents