Friday, January 15, 2016

What is acid rain?

Image Credit - Free images by Pixabay

Acid rain is rain that has been made acidic due to environmental pollutants. 

The burning of fossil fuels leads to the formation of acid rain. When fossil fuels are burnt gases such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are released into the atmosphere. 

Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide react with the surrounding air to form acidic pollutants and fall down to earth as rain, snow or fog. 

The acid rain enters oceans, rivers, lakes, and raises the level of acidity. It also seeps deep into the ground and pollutes the underground water resources.

Effects of acid rain

Acid rain - 

  • releases aluminium into the soil, the aluminium content makes it hard for the plants to absorb water from the soil 
  • weakens plants and makes them more susceptible to diseases and affects the ability of plants to grow and reproduce
  • makes the water highly acidic, the high levels of acidity in the water make it difficult for aquatic animals and plants to survive grow and survive

Main Sources of Pollution

Power plants that burn fossil fuels release sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide into the atmosphere.

Automobiles produce about half of the world’s nitrogen dioxide.

Exhaust from cars, trucks and buses release nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide

Role of nitrogen in acid rain

High concentration of nitrogen in the water due to acid rain results in the growth of algal blooms. 

When more algae grow other aquatic plant species die due to lack of oxygen and sunlight. Bacteria feed on the dead organic matter and multiply. 

As bacteria increase in number, the oxygen content decreases making it difficult for aquatic plants and animals to breathe.

What is dry acid deposition?

Acidic gases and particles in the environment are referred to as dry acid deposition. 

The acidic gases and particles are blown by the wind and are deposited on buildings, vehicles and trees.

The deposited  acidic particles and gases are washed off from the buildings, vehicles and trees and increase the acid level of the falling rain. 


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