11:32 am - Monday May 28, 2012

Acid Rain

Acid rain is a rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, meaning that it possesses elevated levels of hydrogen ions (low pH). It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure. Acid rain is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides which react with the water molecules in the atmosphere to produce acids. Governments have made efforts since the 1970s to reduce the release of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere with positive results. Nitrogen oxides can also be produced naturally by lightning strikes and sulfur dioxide is produced by volcanic eruptions. The chemicals in acid rain can cause paint to peel, corrosion of steel structures such as bridges, and erosion of stone statues.

Causes of Acid Rain

Two elements, sulfur and nitrogen, are primarily responsible for the harmful effects of acid rain.

1. Sulfur is found as a trace element in coal and oil. When these are burned in power plants and industrial boilers, the sulfur combines with oxygen to form sulfur dioxide (SO2). Because SO2 does not react with most chemicals found in the atmosphere, it can travel long distances. Eventually, if it comes in contact with ozone or hydrogen peroxide, it can be converted to sulfur trioxide. Sulfur trioxide can dissolve in water, forming a dilute solution of sulfuric acid.
2. Nitrogen makes up about 78% of the atmosphere. When heated to the temperatures found in steam boilers and internal combustion engines, it can combine with oxygen from the atmosphere to form nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide (NOx). NOx is the sum of nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide in a given parcel of air. These can dissolve in water, forming weak solutions of nitric and nitrous acids.

Effects of Acid Rain

Acid rain causes acidification of lakes and streams and contributes to the damage of trees at high elevations (for example, red spruce trees above 2,000 feet) and many sensitive forest soils. In addition, acid rain accelerates the decay of building materials and paints, including irreplaceable buildings, statues, and sculptures that are part of our nation’s cultural heritage. Prior to falling to the earth, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) gases and their particulate matter derivatives—sulfates and nitrates—contribute to visibility degradation and harm public health.

Acid Rain Videos & Images

Here you can find latest video & images of famous Acid Rain.

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