Sunday, December 25, 2011

Acid Rain

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Acid rain is rain, snow or fog that is formed in the atmosphere by industrial waste gases and damages the environment. Two common air pollutants acidify rain sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide .When these substances are go up into the atmosphere they can be carried over long distances by prevailing winds before returning to earth as acidic rain, snow, fog or dust. When the environment cannot neutralize the acid being deposited, damage occurs.

The chemistry of sulphur dioxide (SO) and nitrogen oxides (Nox) are the primary causes of acid rain. When large quantities of these two particular chemicals enter the atmosphere, they team up with (ho) to produce strong acids and nitric acid which is formed in the Sunlight increases the rate of most of these reactions. The result is a solution of sulphuric acid and nitric acid in the air.

Wet deposition refers to acidic rain, fog, and snow. As this acidic water flows over and through the ground, it affects a variety of plants and animals. The strength of the effects depend on many factors, including how acidic the water is, the chemistry and of then buffering capacity soils involved, and the types of fish, trees, and other living things that rely on the water.

Dry deposition refers to acidic gases and particles. About half of the acidity in the atmosphere comes back to earth through dry deposition. The wind blows these acidic particles and gases onto buildings, cars, homes, and trees. Dry deposited gases and particles can also be washed from trees and other surfaces by rainstorms. When this happens, the runoff water adds those acids to the acid rain, making the combination more acidic than the falling rain alone

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Acid rain has several effects to the world. The first affect that I will discuss will be the damage and death of forests all over the world. The reason for this is that the acid takes important minerals from the leaves of the trees and from the soil. Acid rain also releases the toxic metals from the soil which causes damage to the roots of the trees. This then means that they have trouble growing, are attacked by fungi and viruses and eventually die.

Acid lakes are the next effect that I’ll discuss in comparison to acid rain. An acid lake may look crystal clear but has hardly any life left in it at all. A healthy lake would have the ph level of 6.5 but an acidic lake would be below 6.0 and life would start to die out. It starts off with the small insects in the lake dying off followed by the fish dying off because their source has been cut off. Finally this can even affect birds because they eat insect larvae which may absorb the poisonous metals.

Corrosion is the next issue that acid rain affects some of our historic sites which may be made out of limestone and sandstone. But evidence now shows that normal buildings are now at risk because of the fact that acid pollution weakens leather and erodes building materials.

The final effect is to our health. People can be harmed by breathing in the chemicals from dry deposition which can cause chest illness. Explaining this in more detail the chemicals act like a poison, causing the airways in the respiratory system to get narrower. This in turn causes breathing to become more difficult and puts stress on the heart.

Transboundary pollution is where once acid rain is formed it stays in the clouds for a long time and is swept off 100’s of kilometres away eventually falling on the earth in the form of acid rain. One major example would be Britain, Poland and Germany. British emissions generate 0% of their acid deposition and are then swept as winds to Scandinavia where they fall as acid rain. This then causes acidifying damage to the country

Indeed there are a few solutions to our current problem with the acid rain. First would be reducing the amount of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions at the industrial source. Some types of coal contain less sulphur then others. Adding lime to the lakes and forests to help minimize the affects that the acid rain has. Cars can be fitted with catalytic converters to cut down on the amounts of poisonous fumes that they produce. Short term the few things that we can do is use public transport and recycle

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