Acid rain is a serious environmental issue and affects various regions, mostly in the USA and Canada. It is harmful to the surroundings which include lakes, streams, forests, and flora and fauna who survive in these ecosystems. It is basically caused due to poisonous gases which are emitted from the Earth's surface in the atmosphere. It may be related to the acid deposition which includes wet and dry deposition. Given below are some facts and figures which will help you to learn more about this serious environmental problem.
The main cause of acid rain is air pollution. There are several man-made as well as natural causes which lead to air pollution. Some of the man-made causes I am sure you must be knowing; burning things, exhaust from cars, smoking, burning of fuel etc. The natural causes are usually the chemicals released from a volcano. The volcano releases sulfur dioxide which causes acid rain.
Smoke released from factories or cars, contains some invisible gases which are harmful to the environment. Some of the main gases are nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide and when they mix with the water droplets that are present in the atmosphere, they form nitric acid and sulfuric acid, and when they fall in the form of rain, they are called acid rain. Now that we know what causes acid rain, let us now learn about its various forms.
Forms of Acid Rain
Some people think that acid rain is actually 'rain'. But I am sorry to say it's not. Depending upon the temperature of a particular location, the 'rain' might also be 'snow'. Wet regions have acid rain, while very cold areas have acid snow or acid fog. Dry regions generally get acid gas or maybe acid dust. These are the various forms of acid rain.
Impact on Forestation
Acid rain has a major impact on forestation as well as on crops. Trees are greatly harmed by it. Some experts have pointed out that in several parts of the world, the trees in the forests are dying away due to it. Leaves of the plants have a waxy layered protection on them. The acid rain damages this layer and causes harm to the trees. In the process of photosynthesis, water is turned into gas, but when acid rain starts destroying the plant, gas is seeping into the leaves, thus taking the place of the water. What happens next is that the plant cannot take in carbon dioxide and thus, it starts dying. Now you know about the acid rain effects on plants.
The acid rain deposits certain harmful or toxic metals in the forest and it also has a major impact on the soil. The rain consists of some toxic metals such as zinc, lead, chromium, copper etc. When there is acid rain, these metals are released and they stunt the growth of the trees which include the moss, the algae, and even the nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These are the ones that help the forest to grow. The soil contains important nutrients that are required for the plant to grow. Acid rain releases aluminum in the soil which destroys these nutrients and thus destroying the plants.
Impact on Water
Acid rain shows a pH balance below the 5.6 level. When the pH balance goes below 7, it means that the substance is more acidic. When acid rain mixes with water, it is harmful for the sea animals. It kills them and when they die, they decompose and remain at the bottom of the sea. This causes further harm to the water and also to its inhabitants.
Impact on Humans
Another acid rain effect is on human health. It causes respiratory problems in humans. Whatever we eat or drink or even breathe, might have come in contact with the acid and when we take this in, it causes harm to our health. Records show that each year, in the United States and Canada, nearly 550 premature deaths take place due to acid rain.
Some Other Facts
- Acid rain can corrode buildings and statues. It also corrodes marbles. Hence, the Taj Mahal in India is at a great risk.
- Some areas can become very foggy mainly due to acid rain.
- No matter how healthy a person is, but acid rain can cause health problems to anyone.
- Most of it occurs mainly because of the coal burner plants in the Western countries.
There are some acid rain solutions which we need to learn more about. If we follow them, we can reduce acid rain and save our environment. Now that we know the facts about it, and also its major impacts on the environment and on our health, we can take the necessary steps to prevent it from occurring.