Rain is one of the most essential ingredients for human and animal life. The water provided by rain allows all life on Earth to survive. Although rain is naturally acidic, it is being increasingly acidified by pollution from homes, factories, power stations and cars. The term used to describe this problem is “acid rain”. Acid rain hasn’t just occurred in the last twenty to thirty years. In fact a chemist named Robert Smith found rainfall in Manchester, U.K., to be very acidic. He suggested a link between acid rain and SO2 given off when coal was burnt by local factories. This was over 100 years ago.
Acid rain is caused when pollutants from cars, homes, factories and power stations mix with atmospheric moisture. These pollutants may be carried in clouds for long distances before falling, which means that forests and lakes far away from factories may be damaged by acid rain.
Two of the major ingredients of acid rain are the chemicals sulphur dioxide [SO2] and nitrogen oxides [NOx]. When large quantities of these two particular chemicals come in contact with the atmosphere, they team up with moisture [H2O] to produce strong acids called sulphuric and nitric acid. These two acids which are formed in the atmosphere, are very strong pollutants.
Some air pollution as a matter of fact comes from natural sources, but most is human made. The burning of oil and coal by plants and factories, homes and cars, is the main source of chemicals that cause acid rain. Power stations and factories emit large amounts of sulphur dioxide and also nitrogen oxides, whilst car exhausts contain large amounts of nitrogen oxides. When volcanoes erupt, they emit various gases which have been trapped under the ground, including sulphur dioxide. This can cause air pollution, which can then be made much worse by the addition of human-made emissions. The air in many towns and cities is overfull of harmful pollutants. In the northern hemisphere sulphur emissions are decreasing steadily, due to pollution controls in industry. NOx emissions, however, are not yet in such steady decline.
The acid from rain takes important minerals from the leaves of trees and from the soil. Acid rain also releases toxic metals from the soil which damage the roots of the trees. The trees are weakened, cannot grow properly and are attacked by viruses, fungi and pests. Eventually the trees may die. Direct damage to trees occurs when SO2 blocks the pores on the leaves, through which the trees takes in the air they need to live. Forest floods that are affected by acid rain have high concentrations of metals like aluminium and lead. When animals drink from acidic lakes and dew that have been affected, the metals they take in may gradually poison them.
There is an obvious link between acid rain and damage to human health. People can be harmed by breathing in the chemicals from dry deposition, causing chest illness. Also when acid rain causes the release of metals and chemicals into drinking water, it can damage people’s health. When air pollution is breathed in as people walk along the street, it gets into their lungs. Once in the lungs, it acts like a poison, causing the airways in the respiratory system to become narrower. This lets in less oxygen and breathing becomes difficult. If SO2 is breathed in, it can pass deep into the alveoli, which is where oxygen is passed into the blood. The moisture in the lungs can turn the sulphur dioxide into sulphuric acid, and cause damage to the body. In some polluted cities, such as those in California, smog stations have been set up to monitor the output of polluting exhaust gases.
To reduce acid rain industry’s have to cut down the amount of SO2 being produced when fossil fuels are burnt. Therefore, they can: use coal which contains little sulphur, remove the sulphur which is in the coal, use another type of fuel, or burn the coal in such a way that the sulphur is destroyed. There are many other ways of combating this problem, however, the best way to solve this issue is to prevent emissions of pollutants in the first place. Reducing the amount of NOx emissions caused by car exhaust is an effective solution. Public transport systems need to be improved so that people can travel without having to use their cars. If more people used public transport, it would cut the number of private vehicles on the roads, and would reduce pollution dramatically. Everybody needs to work together to reduce pollutants to make the world a safer and healthier place to live.
You can also order a custom essay, term paper, research paper, thesis or dissertation on Acid Rain from our professional custom writing service which provides students with high-quality custom written papers.
0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes
Tags: acid rain essay, acid rain papers, acid rain term paper, sample research paper, scientific essays
Acid rain is pollution Essay
606 Words3 Pages
Acid rain is a common term for pollution caused when sulfur and nitrogen dioxides combine with atmospheric moisture to produce a rain, snow, or hail of sulfuric and nitric acids. Such pollution may also be suspended in a fog, or the pollutants may be deposited in dry form. Environmental damage from acid rain has been reported in northern Europe and North America. High levels of acid rain have also been detected in other areas of the world, such as above the tropical rain forest of Africa. Acid rain has destroyed plant and animal life in lakes, damaged forests and crops, endangered marine life in coastal waters, eroded structures, and contaminated drinking water.
Research has shown that although some of the damage attributed to acid rain…show more content…
Scientists agree that acid rain is harmful, but reports concerning its severity conflict. A U.S. government report issued in September 1987 minimized the environmental damage caused by acid rain and concluded that the acid-rain problem is not increasing.
A 1988 survey conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, however, indicated that streams in the eastern United States were more acidic than was previously believed. In 1990 the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP), created by Congress in 1980, issued a report on the results of its study. The report indicated that acidic waters also occur in the southern and midwestern United States, but downplayed acid-rain damage to forests. Many scientists urge that measures to control acid rain begin immediately. The most direct action would be to cut off pollution at the source.
Regulations require that new coal-burning plants must install expensive scrubbers in their smokestacks to remove most of the dioxides (see POLLUTION CONTROL). Other possible measures include burning only low-sulfur oil or coal, or removing the sulfur from coal with high sulfur content. Amendments have been proposed to the 1970 Clean Air Act that are designed to reduce sulfur and nitrogen emissions. The costs of such measures are considerable, however, and who should pay them continues to arouse controversy.
Bibliography: Bubenick, D.