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When a light rain falls, normally you don't think that the falling raindrops could kill you. In the case of acid rain, these seemingly innocent droplets of water are turned into our environmentally unsafe weapons of war. Acid rain looks, feels, and even tastes like regular rain. However, there is a big difference. Acid rain is rain which has a pH level of less than 6. The pH of pure water is normally 7, or neutral. The lower the number is, the more acidic the substance. As you might know, acid eats away at materials it comes into contact with, be it the road, a tree, your hair, a building, or a monument. When acid rain falls on such things, it of course eats away at them.
"But how does this rain become so acidic?" you ask. There is a simple answer, and is not surprisingly the answer to many of our other problems with the environment: people. Pollution from factories, coal electric plants (mainly in the eastern U.S.), trains, and especially CARS, rises into the air. This pollution mixes with the moisture in the clouds, and when the rain falls, so does this pollution. This pollution consists of many chemicals, but a major one in acid rain is sulfur. Sulfur can form an acid which eats away at most anything it touches. This is most vividly seen on the east coast of the U.S., where coal plants provide much of the electric needs. The coal plants release lots of pollutants into the air, and it comes back as acid rain, slowly breaking apart what it touches.
An example of the effects of acid rain is Cleopatra's Needle in New York. This obelisk (which is pretty much what you call the shape of the Washington Monument) was transferred here from Egypt, its original site. It was created thousands of years ago, and stood in Egypt without really breaking apart until modern times. Then in 1880, it was moved to New York. Within a matter of a few decades, the acid rain in New York had deformed it. It no longer had the sharp edges it used to have. Designs were faded. What appeared to be large dents in the stone figure were noticable. This came from the acid rain. Below is a picture of a gargoyle on a building. The left side picture shows the effects of acid rain, the right side picture shows what it originally looked like (actually, the gargoyle was reconstructed after the damage was done, and the right side picture depicts the reconstruction.)
Not only does acid rain affect manmade buildings, but it also affects Mother Nature's creations aswell. Here is a picture of a forest, destroyed by the effects of acid rain. Notice how all the leaves are gone, and the trees seem to be withering away. This is because the rain makes the ground that the tree grows in too acidic for the tree to grow. The tree dies, and since the rain affects the whole forest, so does the forest. This scene is becoming much too common in our world.
There IS something we can do to help stop this. Use our cars less often, walk the short distances. Use less electricity so less smoke needs to go up in the air (even if you don't have coal burning power plants, other forms of electricity have wastes which, if you use less electricity, can be reduced.)
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