Acid rain is rainfall (which can also occur in the form of snow or hail) rich in particles and acid molecules that are usually found in the atmosphere but due to this phenomenon they settle on the ground.Acidic is called any precipitation (rain, fog, dew, hail, snow), the acidity of which is higher than normal.
The main acid components present in the rains are sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Their presence in the atmosphere is partly natural. The acidic properties of the medium are determined by hydrogen ions. The greater the concentration of hydrogen ions in the solution, the higher its acidity. To express the concentration of hydrogen ions using units of pH, or pH. The pH scale is from 0 (extremely high acidity) through 7 (neutral medium) to 14 (extremely strong alkalinity). Normal rainwater has a pH of 5.5.
Passing through the atmospheric layer containing an increased concentration of sulfur oxides, nitrogen or hydrogen chloride, the precipitates are saturated with these substances, which leads to a decrease in the pH value, i.e. sediments become acidic. Acid rain contains solutions of sulfuric, nitric and other acids, into which the moisture of the air is converted, absorbing nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and other gases contained in the air.
Acid precipitation has a detrimental effect on vegetation, reduces forest growth and crop yields, and causes acidification of lakes, leading to the death of eggs, fry, plankton, algae and fish. As a result of acid rain, the process of soil acidification occurs, which is a stress factor affecting the viability of forests. The total area of Russian forests affected and killed by industrial emissions is about 1 million hectares. The largest areas of forest drying are observed in the regions where large metallurgical production facilities are located. Acid rain accelerates the corrosion of metals, contribute to the destruction of buildings. So, in industrial areas, steel rust is 20 times faster than in rural areas.
Among acid precipitation, the most pronounced decrease in pH is characteristic of fog. Thus, the highest acidity of the fog was noted in Hamburg (pH less than 2, for comparison: the pH of lemon juice is 2.3).The negative effects of acid rain are recorded in the United States, Europe, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries.Acid precipitation is dangerous to humans through direct contact. Especially dangerous is the mixture of fog with smoke (soot particles) – smog.
What Are The Causes of Acid Rain?
The formation of acid rain is due to an increase in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides (the latter to a lesser extent). This increase can be determined by natural causes but also and above all by human activity, which we have already seen to be responsible also for the Greenhouse Effect and for Global Warming. The massive use of fossil fuels by man will only worsen this situation, causing more and more acid rain, if a problem is not solved.
What are the consequences of acid rain?
Acid rain and their progressive intensification has devastating consequences, not only for our health but also for the survival of the ecosystem itself.
Acid rain damages and increases the toxicity levels of the foods that are grown: this has serious effects on our health, which can manifest itself with circulatory pathologies, respiratory problems but also with tumors , especially with the lungs.
Naturally, even the natural environment is exposed to a high risk due to the intensification of acid rain: this in fact undermines the growth and reproductive capacity of plants , drastically reducing them.
Damages to the structures
Acid rain also causes serious damage to structures in the long run: sulfuric acid tends to corrode the material, accelerating its decay. This applies to most of the materials used for building construction, including reinforced concrete.