Acid Rain Effects
Everyone knows what water is. There is a huge amount of water on Earth – one and a half billion cubic kilometers. It would seem that there is so much water that people should always have enough of it. But the trouble is that the water is salty in all oceans. People and almost all living things need fresh water. But there is not so much freshwater. That’s why we desalinate her. In the freshwater of rivers and lakes, there are a lot of soluble substances, including poisonous ones. There may be pathogenic microbes, so it is impossible to use it, and moreover, to drink it without additional purification. When it rains, drops of water (or snowflakes, when it snows) capture harmful impurities from the air that got into it from the pipes of some plant. As a result, harmful, so-called acid rainfalls in some places on Earth. Neither plants nor animals like it.
Graceful drops of rain have pleased people, but now in many parts of the world, the rains have become a serious threat.
Acid precipitation is precipitation whose acidity is higher than normal. The measure of acidity is the pH value (hydrogen index). The scale of pH value goes from 02 (extremely high acidity) through 7 (neutral medium) to 14 (alkaline medium), and the neutral point (pure water) has pH=7. Rainwater in pure air has pH=5.6. The lower the pH value, the higher the acidity. If the acidity of the water is lower than 5.5, then the precipitation is considered acidic. You can meet fall precipitations on vast territories of industrially developed countries of the world, in which acidity exceeds the normal one from 10 to 1000 times (pH=5-2.5).
Sources of Acid Rain
Chemical analysis of acid precipitation shows the presence of sulfuric (H2SO4) and nitric (HNO3) acids. The presence of sulfur and nitrogen in these formulas shows that the problem is related to the release of these elements into the atmosphere. During fuel combustion, sulfur dioxide enters the air, atmospheric nitrogen reacts with atmospheric oxygen, and nitrogen oxides are formed.
These gaseous products (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide) react with atmospheric water to form acids (nitrogen and sulfur).
In aquatic ecosystems, acid rains cause the death of fish and other aquatic inhabitants. Acidification of river and lake water also has a serious impact on terrestrial animals, as many animals and birds are part of the food chains starting in aquatic ecosystems.
Along with the death of lakes, the degradation of forests becomes evident. Acid rain affects plants and violates the protective wax cover of leaves, making plants more vulnerable to insects, fungi, and other pathogens. During drought, more moisture evaporates through damaged leaves.
Leaching of biogas from the soil and the release of toxic elements helps slow down the growth and death of trees. We can assume what happens to wild species of animals when forests are killed.
If the forest ecosystem is destroyed, soil erosion begins, water bodies become clogged, floods and deteriorating water reserves become catastrophic.
As a result of acidification in the soil, there is a dissolution of nutrients, vital for plants; these substances are carried out by the rains into the groundwater. At the same time, heavy metals are leached from the soil, which is assimilated by plants, causing them serious damage. By using such plants for food, a person also gets with them an increased dose of heavy metals. The acidic rain effects on humans are also quite dangerous for their health.
When soil fauna degrades, harvests decline, the quality of agricultural products deteriorates, and this, as we know, leads to the deterioration of public health.
Acid Rain Damages
Under the action of acids, aluminum release from rocks and minerals, as well as mercury and lead, which then enter the surface and groundwater. Aluminum can cause Alzheimer’s disease, a kind of premature aging. Heavy metals in natural waters have a negative impact on kidneys, liver, central nervous system, causing various cancer diseases. The genetic consequences of poisoning with heavy metals may appear in 20 years or more not only in those who use dirty water but also in their descendants.
Acidic rains dilute metals, paints, synthetic compounds, destroy architectural monuments.
As you can see, the result of acid rain is very deplorable and dangerous for life on Earth. To reduce the impacts of acid rain, we need to focus on reducing the emission of acid-forming substances from coal-fired power plants. And for this purpose, it is necessary:
- Use of low-sulfur coal or its purification from sulfur
- Filter plant for gaseous products
- Alternative energy use
Most people remain indifferent to the acid rain problem. Are you going to wait indifferently for the biosphere to die, or will you act?