There are many forms of acid rain that are seen around the world. In parts of the world where there is wet weather, there is acid rain, acid snow, and acid fog. In parts of the world where there is dry weather, there is acid gas and acid dust. All of the lakes and streams in the world are normally slightly acidic. Heavy rainstorms or melting snow can cause the acidity in lakes and in streams to increase.
What effect does acid rain have on sea life?
Acid rain is very harmful to the environment. Acid rain damages everything over a period of time because it makes the living things in the environment die. Acid rain affects the life in the water as well as the life on land. It is almost worse in water than on land because the fish that are in the water need the water to breathe. When the water gets polluted, then the fish get sick and end up dying.
All rainwater contains some level of acidity. Acidity is measured by pH, which stands for potential of hydrogen. The pH scale measures the amount of acid in a substance. PH is measured on a scale from 0-14, with 7 being neutral. The lower the number is on the pH scale, the more acidic that substance is. Normal rainwater has a pH of 5.6. When the pH level of rainwater goes below 5.6, it is considered acid rain.
All of the sea life will die when the water that they swim in gets to be too acidic. For example, all fish will die when the water goes below a pH of 4.5. Most of the frogs and insects that live around the water will also die when the water reaches a pH of 4.5. With a pH of 5.5, all of the bottom-dwelling bacterial decomposers, animals that eat the remains of the food that other animals donít want, will begin to die. When these decomposers die, they leave the un-decomposed food on the bottom of the water. This pollutes the water by making the water dirty for all of the fish to swim in. All fresh water shrimp die when there gets to be a pH of 6.0. Aquatic plants will grow the best when the water is a pH between 7.0 and 9.2. If acid rain gets to be more of a problem, then all of the sea life will eventually be gone.
Some of the lakes that were once acidic are recovering, but many more are not recovering. Of the 202 lakes that were chosen to be studied in the early 1980s; only 33% of them have become less acidic.
What effect does acid rain have on the forests of the world?
Trees are also harmed by acid rain. In Germany, the forests are believed to be dying because acid rain is harming them. Scientists say that acid rain damages the waxy outer coating that protects
the leaves. When this happens, it allows the acid to seep into the tree. Instead of water changing from a liquid to a gas inside the leaves, gas is taking the place of the water. This prevents the plant from taking in carbon dioxide to perform photosynthesis, and the plant will eventually die.
Acid rain, acid fog, and acid vapor also damage forests by
damaging the surface of the leaves and needles. This makes it harder for the trees to withstand the cold and will cause the tree to die. Acid rain also harms the soil that the trees are growing in by taking most of the valuable nutrients away from the soil. Acid rain also leaves a lot of aluminum in the soil, which can be harmful to the trees that grow there.
The atmosphere deposits a lot of toxic metals into the forests because acid rain contains metal. Some of these metals are lead, zinc, copper, chromium, and aluminum. When there is acid rain, the rain releases these metals. This is believed to stunt the growth of many trees and plants. This also stunts the growth of mosses, algae, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and fungi that are needed to help the forest grow. Forests need these because they eat the harmful things that will kill the trees, such as bad bacteria. Acid rain hurts trees because they cannot grow any more.
What effect does acid rain have on the air, us, and our health?
Acid rain affects us in many different ways. One major way is our health. Breathing and lung problems in children and adults who have asthma and in children have been linked to acid air pollution. Everything that we eat, drink, and breathe has at one time come in contact with acid deposits. This could threaten our health by making us become sick. The following health problems occur each year in the U.S. and Canada due to acid rain:
As you see, if acid rain became a little less of a problem, then there would be many health problems that could be avoided.
What can acid rain do to non-living things?
Acid rain can also damage non-living things, such as buildings and statues. It can decay building materials and paints. Worst of all, it can damage non-replaceable buildings, statues, and sculptures that are part of our nationís memories that we want to last for a very long time.
What is acid rain caused by?
Acid rain is mainly caused by these substances that are being released into the air:
There are a lot of similarities in all of these pollutants. Most of the pollutants are from automobiles. Automobiles release harmful smoke into the air, which causes acid rain. Coal, oil, and gasoline are also some of the most common causes of all of the pollutants. If people reduce the amount of these things that they release into the air, then there will be less pollutants. Some of the most common health problems are breathing problems, nervous system problems, and lung problems.
The table above shows that the biggest air pollutant that mobile sources contribute to acid rain is carbon monoxide. Of all of the carbon monoxide releases that contribute to acid rain, 81% of them come from mobile sources. The biggest other source is particulate matter, little particles of pollution that are released into the air by cars, trucks, and buses that are burning diesel fuel, fertilizers, pesticides, road construction, steel making, mining, and turning on fire places and wood stoves. 73% of the non-mobile sources that contribute to acid rain are caused by the release of particulate matter. The table above shows how much mobile and other sources of pollution can make acid rain more of a problem. Seeing that carbon monoxide and particulate matter are the leading sources of pollution, by cutting down on these, acid rain will not be as much of a problem.
What can you do?
There are many ways that people can stop pollution. One major way is to reduce the amount of trips that you take in your car. Another way that a lot of our pollution is caused is by creating electrical energy. When electricity is created, fuels are usually burned, and this causes the pollution, which causes acid rain. The generation of electric power produces more pollution than any other industry in the United States. Burning coal and other fossil fuels causes most of our pollution. This is why in some places around the world, acid rain is monitored very closely. In 1998, data shows that by using electricity, the pollution that comes with it was responsible for 67% of the sulfur dioxide emissions that caused acid rain that year. Every time that you turn on the lights, that causes the pollution that causes acid rain. Even doing little things that you may think donít cause pollution sometimes really do. Some things that you can do to make acid rain less of a problem are:
In Your Home
In the yard
Acid rain hurts many things. Some things that are being hurt by acid rain are trees, animals, and most of all, sea life. People can help stop acid rain by not polluting the air. When the chemicals in the air turn into a gas and evaporate, they mix with the water vapor, and cause acid rain. Even kids can help prevent this pollution by using less electricity and using transportation that is friendly to the environment.
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