Imagine looking out the window in the morning and only being able to see a few blocks. It is not snow that you see neither is it heavy rain. It appears to be fog, but not regular fog, it is a harmful, acidic and ugly fog that is a result of very bad air pollution. This is true on some days in Mexico City. Mexico City is one of the most polluted cities in the world and the mountains that surround the city hold the thick and ugly fog in. Acid rain has been known to fall in this city and many others around the world. Acid rain is one the biggest problems our environment deals with today. What is acid rain? Where does it come from and how does it form? What are the effects of it on our environment and us? In this report I will teach you all you need to know about acid rain and what we can do about it.
What is Acid Rain?
Acid rain is defined as rain that has more acid in it than the normal amount. Acidity is measured on the pH scale that runs from 0 to 14. Anything from zero to seven is considered acidic, seven is neutral and anything from 7 to 14 is basic. Something that has a pH of 6 is ten times more acidic that something with a pH of 7. There is a lot of controversy over what the pH of rain must be to be considered acidic. Anything equal to or lower than 5.6 on the pH scale has been said to be acidic but that number is subject to change depending on who you talk to or where you live.
How Big is the Problem?
Acid rain in found in places around the world. The sad thing is that the cities that create all the pollution don't suffer from it, it's the areas around the source of the pollution. Some of the main countries affected severely by acid rain include Brazil, Canada, China, France, Japan, Mexico, US, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. Switzerland is one of those countries that produces close to no sulfur that causes acid rain, yet the country suffers the effects from all the surrounding industrial areas such as Poland and places in Russia. There are thousands of acres of forest that are being killed off or already dead from such strong acidity levels. The problem is large but people need to work together to beat it.
What Causes Acid Rain?
The biggest source for acid rain is sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide is let into the environment by volcanoes, sea spray, rotting vegetation and plankton but we also contribute a large amount of it from burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil (including gasoline) which are blamed for at least half of the sulfur dioxide that is released into out environment. When sulfur dioxide is first let into the environment it forms a sulfate ions that then turn into sulfuric acid as it bonds with hydrogen atoms. This acid is brought down to the ground by snow or rain. Nitric oxide and nitric dioxide are also some big causes of acid rain. These are mostly caused from power stations and exhaust fumes. These rise in large clouds into the atmosphere and fall back down as rain and/or snow and oftenly over regions that are far away from their sources. Acid rain may seem to be a huge problem but it is very preventable and treatable.
The Effects of Acid Rain
Acid rain has many harmful effects on the environment and people around the world. First off there's the animal's. The freshwater fish are the most effected of all the animals. The sulfuric acid in the acid rain effects fishes ability's to take in oxygen, salt and nutrients that are essential for them to survive. The acid also throws off the balance of salts in the fish, which leads to deformities, and eventually the depletion of the fish in a lake. As the pH in a lake drops from 6 to five all the fish die off and so does almost all life in the lake.
Acid rain also has a huge effect on forests. Acid rain damages trees cause them to lose their leaves or needles, suffer from stunted growth, and strips them of their bark. Buildings and stone structures are effected by acid rain a great amount. Famous buildings such as the Parthenon in Athens, the Statue of Liberty in New York, St Paul's Cathedral in London, and the Taj Mahal in India have all been effected by acid rain, some very seriously. Although natural corrosion does occur the corrosion has made a big leap in recent years due to acid rain.
The biggest concern of acid rain is the effects it has on people or will have on people in the future. Respiratory problems are the most common, things like asthma, dry coughs, headaches, eye nose and throat irritation. The indirect effects of acid rain are the deposition of certain acids in the organs and body tissues that have been linked to brain damage in children, as well as nerve disorders and even death.
There are several ways of reducing acid rain and other air pollution problems. One of the simplest ways of reducing emissions is to clean coal before it is burned to reduce the amount of emissions let off. Sulfur can also be taken out of oil before it is burned which also helps reduce emissions. The simplest way of controlling acid rain is by conserving energy therefor letting less fossil fuels to burn and less sulfur to be given off in smoke. There is one way of reducing acidity in lakes, that is dropping large amounts of lime in lakes which neutralizes the acid, but this is an expensive and short-term solution. So remember to conserve as much energy as you can and don't forget to turn the lights out.
How Does the Future Look?
Acid rain is not something that gets better by itself or even over time. Acid doesn't disappear it just stays and accumulates in lakes and soils. I sure hope we find a solution for it that it inexpensive and lasting, but that is probably not likely. An alternate energy source seems to be the answer for the future and we better hope that we find one soon or our air pollution and acid rain problems are only gonna get worse by the day.
I hope you remember to take short showers, drive little geo metro that use little amount of gasoline, turn your thermostat down to 45 at night t conserve heat, and to use candles whenever possible. In doing this we will conserve large amounts of energy and our acid rain problem will slowly disappear. We must preserve our world for our kids to enjoy and think twice before we buy that huge ford excursion that gets a couple gallons for each mile of gas.