Acid Rain: How it Affects the Environment


There are many developments by humans that have affected the environment. It is ironic that the quest for survival has led to many things that actually threaten it instead. Changes in the land and atmosphere have resulted in an unhealthy living environment. This environment causes disease and extinction, instead of supporting human and animal life. Waste, chemicals, excessive water use continue to plague our planet. Factories that manufacture various convenience products, like plastic, highly contribute to the production of certain pollutants. Acid rain is one of the consequences of modern life.

Composition 

The term “acid rain” can be considered a broad term. It covers many different types of precipitation and the acidic ingredients that are a part of it. Some of these items are nitric acid and sulfuric acid. These acids are the result of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxides being emitted into the air. They then react with oxygen, water, or other chemicals. This mixture results in the acids that are presented in acid rain and other weather. These items join many different forms of natural weather. Acidic components can be present in rain, dust, and snow. The appearance of these acids in the air also allow for dispersal in fog or hail. The ability of these items to persist in both wet and dry weather makes it resilient and ever present.

Causes 

The contaminants that cause acid rain and other weather complication can come from some natural sources. The amounts from volcanoes and other items is very low. The majority of sulfur and nitrogen dioxides comes from humans burning fossil fuels. One daily convenience that causes the release of these components is the production of electricity. It is estimated that one-fourth of the nitrogen dioxides in the environment are caused by electricity alone. Two-thirds of the sulfur dioxide found is thought to be from the same source.

Automobiles burn fuel and also contribute to the problem. Manufacturing processes require the use of heavy machinery, resulting in even more chemical production.  Manufacturing of items that we use every day causes the release of these chemicals. Oil refineries are also a culprit. Humans produce convenience items at a heavy cost to our health and that of our planet. The pollution that comes in the form of acid rain and other depositing weather is felt far beyond the main sources. Wind can blow the contaminants far from their originating area, making acid dispersal a problem for the majority of the planet. While living near industrial areas can offer higher human exposure, moving away does not guarantee a complete absence of these substances.

Measuring

It is important to measure acid rain so we can determine how much change needs to be initiated. It is also necessary to estimate current damage. A pH scale is used to figure out how much acid is in the rain in a certain area. The neutral starting point for these measurements is 7.0. A lower pH means that the acidity is high. A measurement of more than 7.0 means that the substance is more alkaline. The average pH of rain is about 5.6. The carbon dioxide in the air dissolves in the rain, resulting in a mild carbonic acid. When precipitation is considered to be “acid rain,” the pH falls to somewhere between 4.2 and 4.4.

Complications

The main complication from acid rain is the pollution of ecosystems. Sustainable ecosystems are no longer able to exist normally when the acid levels rise. This can mean that crops are contaminated from affected water sources. This leads to unhealthy foods for humans and animals, alike. Rivers and lakes may not be able to support fish and wildlife that uses them as a water source. Our environment is a delicate balance, every part of it works together to support life. The addition of acid rain completely throws off the way it should work.

Acid rain has been a long-standing issue since the beginning of large-scale manufacturing. Population increase also contributes to higher use of electricity and other items. Commuting to work and school make automobile use a necessity in many areas. Public transportation also increases the risk of acid rain, but may help to limit emissions. Severe changes must occur to lessen the chemicals released into our environment.


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