Acid Rain - The Deadly Destroyer
Uploaded by dryice98 on May 12, 2001
What is Acid Rain?
Acid rain is a form of precipitation that falls to the earth as rain. For rain to be acidic it has a pH level of less than 5.6. The corrosive nature of acid rain causes widespread damage to the environment. The problem begins with the production of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas, oil and other kinds of manufacturing. When these pollutants are in the air, they react with water and other chemicals, to form sulfuric acid, nitric acid, sulfuric acid and other pollutants. Once these pollutants are in the air, they can travel for many miles, and when rain clouds get to heavy to hold all the moisture they drop their deadly load of chemicals onto the earth in a form of rain, snow, hail or fog.
In Eastern North America, throughout Europe, Japan, China, and Southeast Asia damage from acid rain has been widespread. Acid rain causes nutrients from the soil to disappear, causes trees to grow slower, causes aquatic life in lakes to die off and as well wildlife. Acid rain also affects cities by corroding everything that the rain touches. Acid rain accelerates the natural wear and tear on structures such as buildings and statues. Acid rain also forms urban smog, which attacks the lungs, causing severe health problems for the elderly.
Formation of Acid Rain
The formation of acid rain starts off with the burning of fossil fuels. Burning is a chemical reaction, in which oxygen from the air combines with carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and other elements in the substance that is being burned. The new compounds that are being formed are gases called oxides. When sulfur and nitrogen are present in the substance being burned, their reaction with oxygen yields sulfur dioxide and various nitrogen oxide compounds. In the United States, 70 percent of sulfur dioxide pollution comes from power plants, especially those that burn coal. In Canada, oil refining and metal smelting, account for 61 percent of sulfur dioxide pollution. Nitrogen oxides enter the atmosphere from many sources, with vehicles emitting the largest share, 43 percent in the United States and 60 percent in Canada.
When these chemicals are in the air, the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides undergo a very complicated reaction with water vapor and other chemicals to yield sulfuric and nitric acid. The compounds that are now formed travel in the...