The term “acid rain” refers to precipitation that has an exceptionally high acidity due to the presence of dissolved contaminants, making it capable of causing significant environmental impact.
Acid rain has a pH of roughly 4.0 compared to typical rain’s pH of around 5.5 because it contains dissolved nitrogen oxides or sulfur dioxide, both of which are acidic pollutants.
Due to air pollutants, notably the excessive amounts of sulfur and nitrogen released by machinery and industrial operations, acid rain is made up of extremely acidic water droplets.
Since this idea encompasses a variety of acidic precipitation, it is frequently referred to as acid rain and the effects of acid rain on the environment can be seen in various parts of our environment.
Both wet and dry processes are used to deposit acid.
Any type of precipitation that removes acids from the atmosphere and deposits them on the earth’s surface is called wet deposition.
Dry deposition of harmful gases and particles adheres to the ground through dust and smoke in the absence of precipitation.
Although some chemicals that can create acid rain are released by rotting vegetation and erupting volcanoes, most acid rain is a result of human activity.
The largest sources include industry, cars, and coal-burning power stations.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are emitted into the atmosphere when people burn fossil fuels.
These air pollutants cause airborne sulfuric and nitric acid to develop when they interact with water, oxygen, and other elements.
These acidic substances may be dispersed over hundreds of miles by winds.
When acid rain falls on Earth, it enters water systems, travels across the surface in the runoff, and settles into the soil which can adversely affect the soil.
Effects of Acid Rain on the Environment
Though acid rain might seem like a big terminology, there are some adverse effects of acid rain on the environment.
In fact, the effects of acid rain can only be negative, there have not been any positive effects recorded yet. these negative effects include
1. Air Pollution
Acid rain causes air pollution, which has a variety of negative effects on health.
Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the air can either create respiratory disorders or worsen existing conditions.
Breathing becomes difficult for persons who have respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis or asthma. Even smaller particles can be produced by the same pollutants that cause acid rain.
These particles can cause health issues or exacerbate ones that already exist when they enter a person’s lungs. Nitrogen oxides also contribute to ground-level ozone.
This ground-level ozone can potentially permanently damage the lungs and cause respiratory issues like pneumonia and bronchitis.
People’s health impacts, which are a concern, are not brought on by acid rain but rather by breathing in these tiny particles of ozone.
People can swim or walk in acidic lakes without experiencing any greater health risks than they would in clear water.
2. Affects Aquatic Life
Certainly, acid rain affects aquatic life, this is because the acidity of water bodies is rising, which prevents some creatures’ eggs from hatching and can even bring death to some aquatic organisms altering their population ratios and ecosystems.
3. Affects Transportation
Currently, it costs a lot of money for the aviation and rail industries to repair the corrosive damage caused by acid rain. Additionally, acid rain corrosion has caused bridges to collapse in the past.
Building stonework and mortar are destroyed by acid rain (especially those made out of sandstone or limestone). It creates a powdery product that can be washed away by rain after reacting with the stone’s minerals.
4. Effects on Ecosystems and Plant Growth
Acid rain immediately harms living things in their habitat, and species that are restricted to aquatic environments are especially at risk since they are unable to migrate to more alkaline waters.
While some species can withstand high levels of acidity, others cannot tolerate even very little pH shifts.
For instance, some local fish populations became extinct in the 1900s as a result of the increased acidity in various lochs in Galloway, Scotland.
Acid rain can also harm the waxy outer layer of plant leaves, and the weaker, higher mortality risk plant results from ineffective photosynthesis.
Due to their extreme sensitivity to acid rain, the first loss of key species in an ecosystem can lead to the eventual loss of other species that relied on the key species for their existence, which may cause the collapse of entire ecosystems.
5. Damage to Vegetation
Increased soil acidity destroys vegetables, leeches nutrients from the soil, slows plant growth, poisons plants, causes brown patches on tree leaves, hinders photosynthesis, and permits the spread of pathogens through damaged leaves.
6. Dilapidating Impacts on Forests
Forests can suffer great harm from acid rain. Acid rain that penetrates the earth can disintegrate nutrients that trees require for good health, like calcium and magnesium.
Aluminum is also discharged into the soil by acid rain, which hinders trees’ ability to absorb water.
Higher-elevation trees in mountainous areas, such as spruce or fir trees, are more vulnerable because they are exposed to acidic clouds and fog, which contain more acid than rain or snow.
Their leaves and needles lose vital nutrients to the corrosive clouds and fog. Due to the lack of nutrients, diseases, pests, and harsh weather can more easily harm trees and forests.
7. Lake and Stream Damage
The pH of most lakes and streams would be close to 6.5 in the absence of pollution and acid rain.
However, acid rain has significantly lowered the pH levels of numerous lakes and streams in the northeastern United States and several other locations.
Furthermore, aluminum deposited into the soil eventually finds its way into lakes and streams.
Unfortunately, aquatic animals, including phytoplankton, mayflies, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, frogs, spotted salamanders, crayfish, and other organisms that are a component of the food web, might die as a result of this increase in acidity and aluminum levels.
When it rains heavily or in the spring when the snow is starting to melt, this issue can get significantly worse. Epistolar acidification refers to these kinds of occurrences.
8. Damages to Buildings and Objects
Buildings, statues, monuments, cars, and other items can all suffer damage from acid rain.
Stone statues’ value and attractiveness can be diminished by the chemicals in acid rain, which can cause paint to peel and the statues to start looking old and worn out.
9. Affect Soil and Rock
Acid rain can erode limestone rock-based land surfaces because calcium carbonate in the limestone combines with the acidity to produce calcium sulfate or calcium nitrate, both of which are soluble substances.
The process also releases carbon dioxide gases. The soluble substances will eventually be carried by water into river systems where their concentration may be high enough to harm aquatic life.
Additionally, the reaction will release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, causing and exacerbating global warming.
Acid rain’s effects on pH also affect how much of various heavy metals are present in the nearby water.
For instance, in a more acidic environment, calcium becomes less readily available, resulting in a lower concentration of calcium in the water, whereas aluminum is more easily released from the soil into the surrounding water.
Both the lowering of some metals that may be essential to an organism’s survival and the increase in the concentration of some heavy metals in the water have the potential to be poisonous to sensitive aquatic organisms.
10. Water Cycle is Affected
Once acid rain has reached the Earth’s surface as precipitation from clouds, a significant portion of it is carried to rivers and lakes via groundwater flow or surface runoff.
Here, it combines with the existing water and makes the water body more acidic. This pH reduction is especially pronounced when a lot of rainwater enters a relatively small water body.
When temperatures are low enough, acid snow can also be descended from the atmosphere in addition to rain.
This type of acid deposition can be very harmful to the environment since it builds up on the ground before abruptly melting and releasing a significant amount of corrosive water into the surrounding area.
There are numerous ways to stop acid rain created by humans. regulating emissions and creating an environmentally sustainable environment.
This would undoubtedly go a great way toward reducing the threat of acid rain.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.