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- Acid Rain: Causes, Effects and Solutions
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- Acid Precipitation
- Acid Rain and Water
The solution to the problem of acid rain is perhaps one of the main environmental and political issues facing the peoples of the industrialized nations, and their neighbours today. There is no doubt about the damage which acid rain has caused, but what remains unclear are the precise causes of acid rain and the most efficacious means of reducing its environmental, economic and political impacts. We have presented a balanced look at the differing points of view on the current state of knowledge in acid rain research with respect to atmospheric processes, environmental effects, measurement procedures, and the legal and political issues surrounding acid rain. This review indicates that the atmospheric processes creating and transporting acid rain are not well enough understood to enable its reduction with any guarantee of success. This conclusion is based on the confusing or conflicting evidence presented by recent scientific studies.
Acid Rain: Causes, Effects and Solutions
Science Explorer. Multimedia Gallery. Park Passes. Technical Announcements. Employees in the News. Emergency Management. Survey Manual. Depending on where you live, maybe you've heard of acid rain. Now, acid rain is not pure acid falling from the sky, but rather it is rainfall or atmospheric moisture that has been mixed with elements and gases that have caused the moisture to become more acidic than normal.
But, acid rain can have a pH of about 5. Dead or dying trees are a common sight in areas effected by acid rain like these woods in the Jezera Mountains in the Czech Republic. Acid rain leaches aluminum from the soil. That aluminum may be harmful to plants as well as animals. Acid rain also removes minerals and nutrients from the soil that trees need to grow. Acidic precipitation can be caused by natural volcanoes and man-made activities, such as from cars and in the generation of electricity.
The precursors, or chemical forerunners, of acid rain formation result from both natural sources, such as volcanoes and decaying vegetation, and man-made sources, primarily emissions of sulfur dioxide SO 2 and nitrogen oxides NO x resulting from fossil fuel combustion. The burning of fossil fuels coal and oil by power-production companies and industries releases sulfur into the air that combines with oxygen to form sulfur dioxide SO 2.
Exhausts from cars cause the formation of nitrogen oxides in the air. From these gases, airborne sulfuric acid H 2 SO 4 and nitric acid HNO 3 can be formed and be dissolved in the water vapor in the air.
Although acid-rain gases may originate in urban areas, they are often carried for hundreds of miles in the atmosphere by winds into rural areas.
That is why forests and lakes in the countryside can be harmed by acid rain that originates in cities. The environment can generally adapt to a certain amount of acid rain. Because bases counteract acids, these soils tend to balance out some of the acid rain's acidity.
But in areas, such as some of the Rocky Mountains and parts of the northwestern and southeastern United States, where limestone does not naturally occur in the soil, acid rain can harm the environment. Some fish and animals, such as frogs, have a hard time adapting to and reproducing in an acidic environment. Many plants, such as evergreen trees, are damaged by acid rain and acid fog. I've seen some of the acid-rain damage to the evergreen forests in the Black Forest of Germany.
Much of the Black Forest was indeed black because so much of the green pine needles had been destroyed, leaving only the black trunks and limbs!
You also might notice how acid rain has eaten away the stone in some cities' buildings and stone artwork. Acidity in rain is measured by collecting samples of rain and measuring its pH.
To find the distribution of rain acidity, weather conditions are monitored and rain samples are collected at sites all over the country. The areas of greatest acidity lowest pH values are located in the Northeastern United States.
This pattern of high acidity is caused by the large number of cities, the dense population, and the concentration of power and industrial plants in the Northeast. In addition, the prevailing wind direction brings storms and pollution to the Northeast from the Midwest, and dust from the soil and rocks in the Northeastern United States is less likely to neutralize acidity in the rain.
When you hear or read in the media about the effects of acid rain, you are usually told about the lakes, fish, and trees in New England and Canada. However, we are becoming aware of an additional concern: many of our historic buildings and monuments are located in the areas of highest acidity. In Europe, where buildings are much older and pollution levels have been ten times greater than in the United States, there is a growing awareness that pollution and acid rain are accelerating the deterioration of buildings and monuments.
Stone weathers deteriorates as part of the normal geologic cycle through natural chemical, physical, and biological processes when it is exposed to the environment. This weathering process, over hundreds of millions of years, turned the Appalachian Mountains from towering peaks as high as the Rockies to the rounded knobs we see today. Our concern is that air pollution, particularly in urban areas, may be accelerating the normal, natural rate of stone deterioration, so that we may prematurely lose buildings and sculptures of historic or cultural value.
Many buildings and monuments are made of stone, and many buildings use stone for decorative trim. Granite is now the most widely used stone for buildings, monuments, and bridges. Limestone is the second most used building stone. It was widely used before Portland cement became available in the early 19th century because of its uniform color and texture and because it could be easily carved. Sandstone from local sources was commonly used in the Northeastern United States, especially before Nationwide, marble is used much less often than the other stone types, but it has been used for many buildings and monuments of historical significance.
Because of their composition, some stones are more likely to be damaged by acidic deposition than others. Granite is primarily composed of silicate minerals, like feldspar and quartz, which are resistant to acid attack. Sandstone is also primarily composed of silica and is thus resistant. A few sandstones are less resistant because they contain a carbonate cement that dissolves readily in weak acid.
Limestone and marble are primarily composed of the mineral calcite calcium carbonate , which dissolves readily in weak acid; in fact, this characteristic is often used to identify the mineral calcite. Acid precipitation affects stone primarily in two ways: dissolution and alteration. When sulfurous, sulfuric, and nitric acids in polluted air react with the calcite in marble and limestone, the calcite dissolves. In exposed areas of buildings and statues, we see roughened surfaces, removal of material, and loss of carved details.
Stone surface material may be lost all over or only in spots that are more reactive. You might expect that sheltered areas of stone buildings and monuments would not be affected by acid precipitation. However, sheltered areas on limestone and marble buildings and monuments show blackened crusts that have spalled peeled off in some places, revealing crumbling stone beneath.
This black crust is primarily composed of gypsum, a mineral that forms from the reaction between calcite, water, and sulfuric acid.
Gypsum is soluble in water ; although it can form anywhere on carbonate stone surfaces that are exposed to sulfur dioxide gas SO 2 , it is usually washed away. It remains only on protected surfaces that are not directly washed by the rain. Gypsum is white, but the crystals form networks that trap particles of dirt and pollutants, so the crust looks black.
Eventually the black crusts blister and spall off, revealing crumbling stone. The USGS has been at the forefront of studying the impacts of acid rain for decades. How does acid rain form? What does it do to the landscape? Can it burn you like battery acid? Keep reading to find out more Water is everywhere, which is fortunate for all of humanity, as water is essential for life. Even though water is not always available in the needed quantity and quality for all people everywhere, people have learned to get and use water for all of their water needs, from drinking, cleaning, irrigating crops, producing electricity, and for just having fun.
The U. When scientists learned that acid rain could harm fish, fear of damage to our natural environment from acid rain concerned the American public. Research by USGS scientists and other groups began to show that the processes resulting in acid rain are very One of the goals of research on the effects of acidic deposition on carbonate stone surfaces is to define the incremental impact of acidic deposition relative to natural weathering processes on the rate of carbonate stone erosion.
If rain that impacts carbonate stone surfaces is resident on the surface long enough to approach chemical equilibrium Review of: The acid rain controversy, by Regens, J. Skip to main content. Search Search. Water Science School. Acid Rain and Water. The cause and effect of acid rain. Get WQ data. Water Quality Information by Topic Learn more. Credit: Lovecz , Wikimedia. Credit: U.
Environmental Protection Agency. Credit: Slick, Wikimedia. Below are other science topics associated with acid rain. Date published: March 2, Attribution: Water Resources. Filter Total Items: 1. Year Select Year Apply Filter. Date published: August 30, Below are publications associated with acid rain. Filter Total Items: 8. Gordon, John D. View Citation. Year Published: The erosion of carbonate stone by acid rain: Laboratory and field investigations One of the goals of research on the effects of acidic deposition on carbonate stone surfaces is to define the incremental impact of acidic deposition relative to natural weathering processes on the rate of carbonate stone erosion.
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Because of its serious large-scale effects on ecosystems and its transboundary nature, acid rain received for a few decades at the end of the last century wide scientific and public interest, leading to coordinated policy actions in Europe and North America. Through these actions, in particular those under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, air emissions were substantially reduced, and ecosystem impacts decreased. Widespread scientific research, long-term monitoring, and integrated assessment modelling formed the basis for the policy agreements. We also discuss important characteristics of the science—policy interactions, such as the critical loads concept and the large-scale ecosystem field studies. Finally, acid rain and air pollution are set in the context of future societal developments and needs, e.
Acid rain is mainly a mixture of sulphuric and nitric acids depending upon the relative quantities of oxides of sulphur and nitrogen emissions. Due to the interaction of these acids with other constituents of the atmosphere, protons are released causing increase in the soil acidity.
The pH of precipitation undoubtedly is affected by a variety of natural sources of acidic and alkaline materials e. However, it has recently become apparent that rain and snow in certain regions of the earth are consistently more acidic than expected. Current data indicate that the mean annual pH in this region declined from 5. In eastern North America, precipitation is now more acidic than in Scandinavia.
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Acid rain, or acid deposition, is a broad term that includes any form of precipitation that contains acidic components, such as sulfuric acid or nitric acid, according to the Environmental Protection Agency EPA. The precipitation is not necessarily wet or liquid; the definition includes dust, gasses, rain, snow, fog and hail. The type of acid rain that contains water is called wet deposition.
Acid Rain and Water
Acid rain is a rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic , meaning that it has 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 sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide , which react with the water molecules in the atmosphere to produce acids. Some governments have made efforts since the s  to reduce the release of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere with positive results. Nitrogen oxides can also be produced naturally by lightning strikes, and sulphur dioxide is produced by volcanic eruptions. Distilled water , once carbon dioxide is removed, has a neutral pH of 7.
Simply put, it means rain that is acidic in nature due to the presence of certain pollutants in the air due to cars and industrial processes. It is easily defined as rain, fog, sleet or snow that has been made acidic by pollutants in the air as a result of fossil fuel and industrial combustions that mostly emits Nitrogen Oxides NOx and Sulfur Dioxide SO2. Acidity is determined on the basis of the pH level of the water droplets by assigning it a number between 0 and 14, where 0 represents extreme acidity and 14 represents superlative basicity the opposite of acidity. According to EPA ,. This can include rain, snow, fog, hail or even dust that is acidic. Saying sulfates do not cause acid rain is the same as saying that smoking does not cause lung cancer. Normal rainwater is slightly acidic with a pH range of 5.
PDF | Acid rain is one of the major environmental threats since 19th century. This paper reviews ACID RAIN, CAUSES, EFFECTS AND CONTROL STRATEGIES. April Authors effluents and vehicles, defining the right. stack height, in.