Acid rain is a growing problem, and if we do not employ and enforce corrective solutions immediately, the damage could be irreversible. Understanding the causes, effects, and solutions of acid rain is essential for everybody. It must be made mandatory for vehicles to comply with efficient emission standards.
In the simplest of terms, acid rain refers to the ways through which, acid accumulated in the atmosphere, gets deposited on the earth’s surface. Air pollution, especially the oxides of sulfur and nitrogen present in air, leads to the acidification of water droplets in the atmosphere. These pollutants are usually emitted by power plants, factories, and cars. When the smoke emitted from industries and vehicles, reacts with the moisture present in the atmosphere, it results in the formation of acid rain.
Acid rain or acid deposition occurs in two ways:
▣ Wet Deposition – This type of deposition occurs when any form of condensation removes acids from the environment, leading to acidic deposition on the earth’s surface.
▣ Dry Deposition – This type of deposition occurs when polluted particles and gases begin to stick to the surface of the earth through smoke and dust, in the absence of precipitation.
Wet deposition is more dangerous than dry deposition, as it washes all the pollutants, and carries it to the lakes and rivers.
Causes of Acid Rain
» The primary cause of acid rain is the emission of harmful gases from industrial power plants, factories, and vehicles.
» In particular, the burning of fuels, such as natural gas, coal, or even oil, releases oxides of sulfur and nitrogen.
» The burning of gasoline and diesel in vehicles leads to building the amount of acidified water droplets in the atmosphere.
Effects of Acid Rain
Owing to the deposition of acids through acid rain, buildings, national monuments, and bridges tend to deteriorate faster. However, the biggest reason to find satisfactory solutions is the damage done to natural ecosystems. Acidic deposition affects the plants, trees, rivers, lakes, soil, and exposed land surface. As a result of this, the animals and plants that live in that area will be severely affected. Their food sources get diminished, they may develop several disorders and/or mutations, or may even die in extreme cases.
Damage to Trees
The number of possible solutions are available to deal with air pollution and the resultant acid rain. However, what matters more is to consciously enforce these solutions on a wide scale. The most important thing is to educate people all over the world, and create awareness, about the causes and effects of acid rain. Solutions to this problem can only be successful through cooperation. Given below are a few solutions, which can greatly reduce the threat of acid rain, if strictly followed by a large number of people.
✔ One of the most fundamental solutions is to utilize fuels that burn more cleanly, or to burn coal more efficiently. This will greatly reduce the amount of acids released in the atmosphere.
✔ A small step can be taken by turning off our lights, computers, and other electrical appliances, when not in use. While purchasing, we can buy appliances, which consume less energy. If everyone follows this, it can help to a huge extent.
✔ Attaching devices known as ‘scrubbers’ in the chimneys of industrial power plants reduces the amount of sulfur released through the smoke by 90-95%. Moreover, industries must regularly inspect and clean all their emission equipment, chimneys, pipes, etc.
✔ The scrubbers which can be used in chimneys produce sludge while reducing the sulfur content. It also produces a building material called gypsum, which is used to make plaster of Paris and cement, in the process.
✔ Cars and vehicles have a large contribution in polluting the environment, and causing acid rain. Using public transport, resorting to carpool, walking down to nearby places instead of driving, etc., can help us save fuel and gas, as well as reduce the adverse effects.
All these solutions will be pointless unless people are informed and educated about the ill-effects and harms of this rain. A widespread and nationwide effort must be made to make people aware of the hazardous effects. Only after that is done, will all the solutions actually make a difference.
Acid rain is one of the biggest environmental hazards that we are facing today, and strong measures must be taken to prevent it, before it is too late. The governments of all the nations needs to take notice, and do much more than what they are already doing. Acid rain is adversely affecting plants, animals, and human beings. It is our duty towards ourselves, and towards our fellow human beings, to do all that we can, to prevent and reduce the presence of acid rain in our environment.