Essay on Acid Rain – Causes and Effects

Free 750 words essay on Acid Rain –  Causes and Effects for school and college students.

Acid rain is a crude manifestation of the scourge of atmospheric pollution in form of precipitation that consists of high levels of nitric and sulphuric acid. This technically occurs when sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are emitted into the atmosphere and undergoes chemical transformations to be absorbed by water droplets in clouds. The phenomenon of acid rain is clearly associated with the huge levels of pollution created by anthropogenic causes. It has scathing and scarring effects on life on earth. The form of acid rain can include rain, snow, fog, hail or even dust particle. With unconscious rise in greenhouse gas emissions and elevated levels of all forms of air pollution, acid rain has now become intermittent with escalating danger.

 

There are two major forms of acid rain where one is in form of wet deposition in form of rain, snow, fog or hail. While on the other hand, dry deposition implies to acidic particles and gases that may deposit to surfaces. It can even transform to larger particles through some form of transportation. The washed off accumulated acid is nearly lethal for wildlife, plants as well as humans. The extent and concentration of acid rain is measured on a pH scale.

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Causes:

Acid rain is a consequence of both anthropogenic and natural reasons. However, the rising levels of pollution are the prime driver of its exacerbation. Among natural sources a common causal agent is from volcanic emissions. The gases emitted from volcanoes that create higher than normal acidic rain or any form of precipitation. It has debilitating effect on plantation and normal vegetation cover. Decaying plants, wildfires and biological processes also emit such acidic gases. A typical contributor is dimethyl sulphide. Lightning strikes produce nitric oxides which mix in the atmosphere and reacts with water molecules through electrical activity.

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Human activities produce chemical gas emissions such as sulphur and nitrogen which dangerously contribute to acid rain on a large scale. These emissions are generated mostly from automobiles, factories, and power generators, etc. The phenomenon of acid rain is more common in urbanized and highly industrialized areas. Such gases combine with water to form sulphuric acid, ammonium nitrate, and nitric acid. Burning of coals for electric power generation or production of energy has menacingly contributed to this problem.

Effect:

  • Not just on environment but acid rain also has destructive effect on public health.
  • Aquatic life apparently is the prime sufferer. Acid rain directly falls on the water bodies and even gets run down into rivers, lakes, ponds, etc. As acids get accumulated in water, the pH level of entire body gets lowered. This altered pH and accentuated aluminum levels is detrimental to the lives of aquatic animals mostly fishes. Run off through catchment area reduces the biodiversity in the process. Gradually, living objects get eliminated.
  • Forests: Acid rain makes trees vulnerable to diseases. Leaves get destroyed and the bark gets damaged taking a toll on the overall health of the tree. This forest damage has been seen on a large scale in the eastern Europe.
  • Soil: The chemical and biological constituents of soil get negatively affected due to acid rain sabotaging its agricultural productivity. In order to perpetuate biological activity, certain optimum level of pH needs to be maintained. The sensitive microorganisms that cannot adapt to these changes quickly perish. The hydrogen ions of the acid are responsible for leaching away the vital minerals and nutrients from soil.
  • Vegetation cover is systematically deteriorated due to high levels of dry deposition on land disbalancing the ecological harmony.
  • Architectural marvels or buildings made of limestone react with acidic rain where significant damage is caused by corrosion. The building is more susceptible to decay then. In fact, cars, airplanes, steel bridges and even pipes can get severely affected. Worst is the altercation to heritage old buildings.
  • High levels of pollutants such as particulate matter of sulphates and nitrates degrades visibility, might lead to accidents, and even injuries. Heart problems such as bronchitis and asthma are common occurrences.
  • Weathering of buildings, corrosion of metals, and peeling off of paints are some additional consequences of the acidic rain.

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Although, acid rain cannot be entirely controlled, transformational difference can be made by cleaning up exhaust pipes and smokestacks, restoring damaged environment, using alternative energy sources, proliferation of public transportation, and through energy conservation. Not just the government but the entire society needs to become responsive and contributory in reducing emissions as the problem of acid rain is all pervasive and this environment stressor unfortunately affects the entire population.


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