Rain – most of us will think of something gloomy and a bit cold and wet. Some will think of it as a perfect time to laze around and witness the falling raindrops. Or go outside and bath in the rain. Others will think of it as a divine grace from heaven to nourish the thirsty land. What if we add “acid” into “rain”? Well, that’s going to be a whole different idea entirely.
Acid rain is any form of precipitation that has high levels of acid mixed into it, usually nitric or sulfuric acid. Acid rain does not just come in “droplet” form (or the traditional “rain” form). It can also occur as snow, fog, or even tiny spec of materials that fall into the earth. Usually, rain is somewhat acidic, while acid rain has a much higher pH level, playing around 4.2 to 4.4.
How Did Acid Rain Form?
It may seem impossible at first if you think about how acid rain can form. In reality, it consists of a primary chemical reaction. Compounds like nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide are released into the atmosphere. These chemical compounds can rise until they reach the stratosphere, which they bind up or react with water vapor and other gases like oxygen. Nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide are soluble in water and their dry form, they are easily blown up by the wind. Either up into the atmosphere or to far places. Since these compounds are soluble in water, they can quickly become a part of the rain or even snow.
Acid Rain: Human Involvement
Human activities, mostly cause acid rain just like other pollution that is currently happening right now. For nearly a century, since the start of the industrial revolution, we humans have released tons of different chemicals into our atmosphere. Thus, the reaction of individual compounds to each other. Or its reaction to the existing chemicals in our atmosphere has developed into acid rain. Pollutants such as waste gases from burning fossil fuel, especially exhaust from vehicles and factories.
Effects of Acid Rain
Acid rain has a lot of adverse effects on our environment, for it does not just pollute the land, but also any marine ecology. That is unfortunate enough to be along its path. Acid rain can damage any plant life either directly upon contact or making the ground toxic which the plant becomes devoid of its essential nutrients. Thus, this will make plants weaker, more vulnerable to disease, less resistant to temperature change or even inhibit their reproduction. It also makes the soil easier to erode since the acid in the rain will react with calcium in the ground.
The most affected are aquatic plants and animals like fishes, mollusks, and other marine life. Most of these aquatic life forms are specially adapted to their living conditions that even a slight change in water’s pH level is enough to kill them. If it does, it will disrupt the entire food chain, making other predators such as birds, other animals, and even us humans don’t have any fish to eat. Also, if a fish dies due to acid rain and if consumed by other animals, there is a high chance that the predator will be poisoned too.
What Can We Do To Avoid This?
The most effective way to prevent this unusual phenomenon is to reduce or to stop consuming fossil fuel. In this way, we can lessen or eradicate the release of toxic gases and pollutants in the atmosphere and to increase the air quality. Also, another great help is to switch from conventional energy (like fossil fuel and coal) into more sustainable energy. These sources like solar energy, wind energy, and others do not provide any toxic byproducts that can damage the environment and is also renewable. Thus, making it virtually an unlimited source of energy.
Acid rain is a bizarre phenomenon that commonly happens in places where there is a large concentration of toxic gases in the atmosphere or has a deficient air quality. If we can manage to change our ways, like switching to renewable energy and not using fossil fuel as a source of energy, also, we can make acid rain into a thing of the past while promoting a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations.