As such, man-made acid deposition began becoming a significant issue during the Industrial Revolution and was first discovered by a Scottish chemist Robert Angus Smith in In that year, he discovered the relationship between acid rain and atmospheric pollution in Manchester, England. Although it was discovered in the s, acid deposition did not gain significant public attention until the s, and the term "acid rain" was coined in Public attention further increased in the s when the "New York Times" published reports about problems occurring in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire.
Aquatic settings are the most clearly affected by acid deposition, however, because acidic precipitation falls directly into them.
Both dry and wet deposition also runs off from forests, fields, and roads and flows into lakes, rivers, and streams. As this acidic liquid flows into larger bodies of water, it is diluted. Howvever, over time, acids can accrue and lower the overall pH of the body of water. Acid deposition also causes clay soils to release aluminum and magnesium , further lowering the pH in some areas. If the pH of a lake drops below 4. It is estimated that around 50, lakes in the United States and Canada have a pH below normal about 5.
Several hundred of these have a pH too low to support any aquatic life. Aside from aquatic bodies, acid deposition can significantly affect forests. As acid rain falls on trees, it can make them lose their leaves, damage their bark, and stunt their growth. By damaging these parts of the tree, it makes them vulnerable to disease, extreme weather, and insects. Trees at high altitudes are also susceptible to problems induced by acidic cloud cover as the moisture in the clouds blankets them.
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Damage to forests by acid rain is seen all over the world, but the most advanced cases are in Eastern Europe. Finally, acid deposition also has an effect on architecture and art because of its ability to corrode certain materials. As acid lands on buildings especially those constructed with limestone , it reacts with minerals in the stones, sometimes causing them to disintegrate and wash away. Acid deposition can also cause concrete to deteriorate, and it can corrode modern buildings, cars, railroad tracks, airplanes, steel bridges, and pipes above and below ground.
Because of these problems and the adverse effects of air pollution has on human health, a number of steps are being taken to reduce sulfur and nitrogen emissions. When distilled water is exposed to air, an interaction with carbon dioxide increases acidity through the formation of carbonic acid, H 2 CO 3 , and the pH level falls.
Many scientists agree that the normal pH of rain is a slightly acidic 5. Seasons, climate, and a host of other factors can also influence the acidity of rain. Rain and snow are not the only processes that deposit sulfur and nitrogen acids from the atmosphere to the ground.
The Causes, History, and Effects of Acid Rain
These compounds are also present in gases and dry particles, which are more difficult to measure. Acid rain is linked to both natural and man-made sources. Nitrogen oxides are formed through the extreme heating of air when a thunderstorm produces lightning. Also, sulfurous gases are discharged from erupted volcanoes and rotting vegetation.
However, most public attention has been focused on man-made sources of acid rain, which include the burning of any fuel that contains sulfur and nitrogen compounds, including public utilities, industrial broilers, motor vehicles, and chemical plants.
Essay on Acid Rain: Meaning, Effects and Control
Electric power generation accounted for 69 percent of total sulfur dioxide emissions in the U. Many industrial sources of sulfur dioxide are located in the eastern U. Typically, the highest nitrogen oxide emissions are found in states with large urban areas, a heavy population density, and significant automobile traffic.
Acid rain is not limited to the region where sources are located. Prevailing winds can blow chemicals in the atmosphere for hundreds or even thousands of miles before being deposited, regardless of state and country boundaries. For instance, compounds from industry in China can potentially be deposited in the U.
For this reason, acid rain is considered a global problem. Forests, lakes, and streams: Acid rain can cause widespread damage to trees. This is especially true of trees at high elevations in various regions of the U. Acidic deposition can damage leaves and also deplete nutrients in forest soils and in trees so that trees become more vulnerable to disease and environmental stress. When lakes and streams become more acidic than normal, they cannot continue to support the same types of fish and aquatic life as in the past.
Fish communities dwindle due to high mortality, a reduced growth rate, skeletal deformities, and failed reproduction. Lakes ultimately become home only to species that can tolerate high-acid conditions. Game fish, such as trout, are particularly sensitive to acidic water conditions.
A healthy lake has a pH of 6. Only a few fish species can survive at a pH of below 5; at a pH of 4, the lake is considered dead. A decrease in fish populations is often the first sign of an acidification problem. Not all lakes are equally vulnerable to acid rain, however. In some areas, such as in Illinois, the average pH of a freshwater lake is an alkaline 8 to 9 because soils and rocks in the bottom and sides of the lake contain high levels of calcium and magnesium, which neutralize the acidity of rain.
Plants and crops: Acid rain can potentially reduce agricultural production by changing the chemical properties of soil, slowing the rate of microbiological processes, and reducing soil nutrients. Roots of natural vegetation and crops can become damaged due to stunted growth. Human effects: Acidic water moving through pipes causes lead and copper to leach into the water.
Acidic fog can be more hazardous to health than acid rain as small droplets can be inhaled.
These atmospheric acids can cause respiratory problems in humans such as throat, nose, and eye irritation, headache, and asthma. Acid fog is particularly dangerous for the elderly, those who are ill, and people who have chronic respiratory conditions. Man-Made Materials: Although sunlight, heat, cold, and wind contribute to the deterioration of man-made structures and objects, acid deposition speeds up this process.
Acid rain - Wikipedia
Metal structures and vehicles become corroded, and limestone buildings, tombstones, statues, and monuments deteriorate faster when rain is acidic. Wet deposition samples can be measured to determine chemical concentrations in almost any area. Each site has an automated precipitation collector and gage to gather samples only during rain or snowfall. Weekly samples are collected and sent to the NADP for analysis.
The network measures acidity and calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate, nitrate, chloride, and ammonium ions. These monitoring efforts support research and policy on air quality issues.