Science Articles

WHAT IS ACID RAIN?

rainfall made so acidic by atmospheric pollution that it causes environmental harm, chiefly to forests and lakes. The main cause is the industrial burning of coal and other fossil fuels, the waste gases from which contain sulphur and nitrogen oxides which combine with atmospheric water to form acids.

Acid rain, also known as acid deposition, is a broad term including various forms of precipitation containing acidic components like nitric and sulphuric acid that falls to the ground in wet or dry forms from the atmosphere. This includes anything acidic even fog, hail, dust, snow or rain.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF ACID RAIN?

Volcanic eruptions and rotting vegetation can release some chemicals that cause acid rain. But human activities still remain the major cause for acid rain. Burning of fossil fuels by factories, automobiles or even the coal-burning power plants contribute towards a majority of acid rain percentage.

Whenever the burning of fossil fuels takes place through humans, it leads to the release of nitrogen oxides and the sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere. The released chemicals then react with oxygen, water and other minor-major substances in the air to form the mild solutions of nitric acid and sulphuric acid.

Winds spread the acidic solutions over hundreds of miles across the entire atmosphere. Upon reaching the Earth’s surface, the acid rain sinks into the soil, enters the water systems, enters the runoff water etc.

 

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF ACID RAIN?

Despite having various ecological effects, the worst effect of the acid rain is its impact on the streams, lakes, wetlands and other aquatic environments.

Acid rain turns the water acidic which makes them absorb the aluminium which makes its way into the streams and lakes from the soil. This turns the water toxic in nature which is poisonous to fish, clams and all other aquatic animals. Owing to our interconnected ecosystem, this impacts the other species too in the food chain including the birds.

Acid rain can also damage the forests especially the ones located on higher elevations. It makes it difficult for the trees in absorbing water since the acid rain robs the soil of the essential nutrients by releasing aluminium in the soil. The leaves also get corroded owing to acid rain.

Acid rain also has yellowing effect on the monuments like that of Taj Mahal. It corrodes buildings and monuments. The trees and plants also remain subjected to diseases and insects which inhibits their ability to reproduce. When the trees decrease in number, there is shortage of oxygen and fresh air. This can harm human population in the long run.

 

WHAT TO DO TO AVOID ACID RAIN?

The sole method of fighting the acid rain is by preventing the release of pollutants causing it.

  • Emissions can be stopped by burning lesser fossil fuels.
  • Promoting the alternative resources for fuel.
  • By conserving energy.
  • Car pooling or using public transportation can also save consumption of fuel.