|What effects does acid rain
have on the environment?
Acid rain can affect the earth in many different ways. Below you can see how soil, trees, lakes, buildings and people are affected when acid rain falls on the earth.
The acid takes important minerals away from the leaves and the soil. Without these minerals, trees and plants cannot grow properly. Damaged trees lose their leaves, have stunted growth and damaged bark. This makes it easier for fungi and insects to attack the tree, and as a result the tree may die.
Acid rain not only damages soil but can also affect the trees directly. Pollutants can block or damage the little pores on the leaves through which the plant takes in the air it needs to survive.
The tree on the right is normal, while the tree on the left is less dense. This is an effect of acid rain.
Lakes and water
As the lake becomes more acidic the fish find it more difficult to reproduce successfully. It is not only the acid in the water that kills them, but also poisonous minerals like aluminium that are washed out of the surrounding ground into the water. The birds that eat the fish also begin to suffer as the harmful minerals build up inside
When sulphur pollutants fall on to buildings made from limestone and sandstone they react with minerals in the stone to form a powdery substance that can be washed away by rain. Famous buildings like the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Taj Mahal in India and St. Paul's Cathedral in London have all been damaged by this sort of air pollution.
Acid rain can also damage stained glass windows in churches, railway lines and steel bridges. The acid rain slowly eats away them all. Building materials crumble away, metals are corroded, the colour of paint is spoiled, leather is weakened and crusts form on the surface of glass.
Taj Mahal in India
When we breath in air pollution, the very fine particulates can easily enter our lungs, where they can cause breathing problems, and over time even lead to cancer. Drinking water is contaminated with chemicals released by acid rain. Aluminium and lead in water can be poisonous at high levels.