Acid Rain essays written by other authors.
Effects of Acid Rain on an Ecosystem
People have known about air pollution since the philosopher Seneca remarked on Rome's polluted skies in AD 61. Even though people were aware of the problem they ignored they it. Up until the last century people have ignored the problem of air pollution including air pollution's most dangerous problem, acid rain. Acid rain is devastating to the ecosystem and is one of the most pressing environmental issues today.
Acid rain forms in the atmosphere from chemicals created by the burning of fossil fuels. When coal and oil are burned they release sulfur dioxide (SO2) and two nitric oxides, nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) designated by the symbol NOX. These dangerous chemicals come from the smoke that pours from factory chimneys and exhaust from car tail pipes. Once released, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides react with other chemicals in the air, water vapor, and sunlight to produce sulfuric and nitric acids, the acids in acid rain. The more sulfuric and nitric acids present, the higher the acidity of the rain. On a 14 point scale, 7 being neutral, anything less than 7 is considered acidic and anything more is considered alkaline. Battery acid is about 1 acidity and lemon juice is around 2 acidity. Regular rain is between 5 and 6 acidity. Acid rain is somewhere between 2 and 5.5. The worst case of acid rain ever recorded was in Wheeling, West Virginia where the rain had an acidity of 2.2. These levels of acidity seriously harm plants, trees, and all other life.
All over the world, acid levels are rising which endangers trees, lakes, streams, drinking water supplies, monuments, and animal life. Basically everything is effected by acid rain. Not only life is effected, but also buildings (such as national monuments), roads, even metals on cars and bridges.
When acid rain occurs, it doesn't immediately effect acidity in lakes and streams. The water dilutes the acid so only over a long period of time can the water become too acidic. In the spring, something called acid shock can happen. Snow, that contains acid, can build up and when it melts all the acid runs into the streams and lakes at one time. When acid levels are too high it can kill small organisms like algae. When the algae dies other bigger organisms that eat algae die from starvation. It is a big chain reaction until all life is gone. Some lakes, i.e. the lakes in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State have been stripped of all life because the acid levels are too high. Acidic water that seeps into soil can also kill trees that are nearby.
Buildings are taking a toll from acid rain. The acid corrodes the stones and cement. Some buildings have been permanently weakened beyond repair. There are definitely many effects from acid rain, but the question is, how do we fix them?
Now that acid rain is widely acknowledged throughout the world, more and more people are doing something about it. For example: In November 1990, President George Bush signed the Clean Air Act, which had an annual cost of up to $25 billion. It cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 10 million tons a year. It also cut nitrogen oxides by 2 million tons a year. Europe agreed to cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 30% of 1980 levels, and a freeze (not increasing) on nitrogen oxide emissions at 1987 levels.
Now all factories are required to be outfitted with scrubbers, which cost $150 million each. They are very expensive to maintain, but they remove 95% of sulfur dioxide after coal is burned. In scrubbers, poisonous gases are sprayed with a mix of water and lime. Together the sulfur, water, and lime form a gray, gooey substance called sludge.
Another solution to lake acidity is liming. Lime is very alkaline, so when poured into lakes it cancels out the acidity. The problem with liming is that it is very expensive and only temporarily reduces acidity.
Another solution is something called a catalytic converter, which is required on all cars. The converter is mounted on the exhaust pipe forcing all exhaust to pass through it. This converts nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxides, and unburned hydrocarbons into a cleaner state.
As you can see, there are many attempts to clean our air, but the atmosphere is still a long way from being clean. If attempts to clean our air continue, our rain may return to normal and acidic lakes, over a period of time, would return to normal. But if our attempts to clean up our own mess fail, we may cause ourselves to kill all our natural resources, which would lead to the extinction of all life on this planet, even humans.
ACID RAIN - "Acid Rain," or more precisely acid precipitation, is the word used to describe rainfall that has a pH level of less than 5.6. This form of air pollution is currently a subject of great controversy because of it's worldwide environmental damages. For the last ten years, this phenomenon has brought destruction to thousands of lakes and streams in the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe. Acid rain is formed when oxides of nitrogen and sulfite combine with moisture in the atmosphere to make nitric and sulfuric acids. These acids can be carried away far from its origin.
The two primary sources of acid rain are sulfur dioxide (SO2), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). Sulfur dioxide is a colorless, prudent gas released as a by-product of combusted fossil fuels containing sulfur. A variety of industrial processes, such as the production of iron and steel, utility factories, and crude oil processing produce this gas. In iron and steel production, the smelting of metal sulfate ore, produces pure metal. This causes the release of sulfur dioxide. Metals such as zinc, nickel, and copper are commonly obtained by this process. Sulfur dioxide can also be emitted into the atmosphere by natural disasters or means. This ten percent of all sulfur dioxide emission comes from volcanoes, sea spray, plankton, and rotting vegetation.
The other chemical that is also chiefly responsible for the make-up of acid rain is nitrogen oxide. Oxides of nitrogen is a term used to describe any compound of nitrogen with any amount of oxygen atoms. Nitrogen monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are all oxides of nitrogen. These gases are by-products of firing processes of extreme high temperatures (automobiles, utility plants), and in chemical industries (fertilizer production). Natural processes such as bacterial action in soil, forest fires, volcanic action, and lightning make up five percent of nitrogen oxide emission.
It has been estimated that acid rain causes $1 billion worth of damage in Canada every year. Thousands of lakes have been damaged; a large part of the salmon habitat in the Maritimes has been lost; a significant proportion of eastern Canada's forests has been affected; and considerable damage to buildings and monuments has been documented. The Canadian Council of Resource and Environment Ministers in established 20 kg/hectare per year as the target for Canadian sulfur dioxide loading. In eastern Canada, 96% of the land with high capability for forestry is subject to acidic deposition in excess of 20 kg/ha per year. In recent years, important instances of dieback and declines in growth rate have been noted in sugar maple groves in parts of Canada that receive high levels of these and other air pollutants, such as ozone. Significant growth declines in northern Ontario forests, most notable over the past 30 years, coincide with a period of rapidly increasing industrialization and urbanization across much of the province.
About 40% of nitrogen oxides come from transportation (cars, trucks, buses, trains), and 25% from thermoelectric generating stations, and the balance from other industrial, commercial, and residential combustion processes.
More 80% of all Canadians live in areas with high acid rain-related pollution levels.
Transportation makes up 43 percent, and 32 percent belongs to industrial combustion.
The interactions between living organisms and the chemistry of their aquatic habitats are extremely complex. If the number of one species or group of species changes in response to acidification, then the ecosystem of the entire water body is likely to be affected through the predator-prey relationships of the food web. At first, the effects of acid deposition may be almost imperceptible, but as acidity increases, more and more species of plants and animals decline or disappear.
As the water pH approaches 6.0, crustaceans, insects, and some plankton species begin to disappear. As pH approaches 5.0, major changes in the makeup of the plankton community occur, less desirable species of mosses and plankton may begin to invade, and the progressive loss of some fish populations is likely, with the more highly valued species being generally the least tolerant of acidity.
Below pH of 5.0, the water is largely devoid of fish, the bottom is covered with undecayed material, and the near shore areas may be dominated by mosses.
Terrestrial animals dependent on aquatic ecosystems are also affected. Waterfowl, for example, depend on aquatic organisms for nourishment and nutrients. As these food sources are reduced or eliminated, the quality of habitat declines and the reproductive success of the birds is affected.
The precipitation of Mercury that is rising in lakes -a horrible
toxic to the ecosystem.
Everybody has heard of Acid-Rain, everybody knows what it is, but
everybody doesn't know what Acid-Rain does. Acid-Rain has effects that
just doesn't effect one place in the forest but it effects most of the
forest. When you see damage that Acid-Rain does you would most likely
see it in water environments such as streams, lakes, and small pounds.
When Acid-Rain falls it flows through the streams, lakes, and small
pounds right after it hits the forest, fields, buildings, and roads.
But only sometimes Acid-Rain can fall directly in the water. When
Acid-Rain falls more and more different types of fish and other aquatic
plants and animals that live in theses waters decrease by the day...
week... year. Because Acid-Rain causes the loss of acid-sensitive
plants and animals, and fish that rely on these organisms for food may
also be affected. So just by Acid-Rain falling into water that is some
of the things that Acid-Rain can do but there is a lot more. When
Acid-Rain comes down it hits the plants and kills the plants being
unable to grow back. The soil will dry up and stay hard until it is
watered if this continues then there will be no more plants on Earth and
if there is no more plants on Earth then all humans will die because
plants have air and without air people will die. Acid-Rain can effect
not only water and water environments but it can effect land. Acid-Rain
organisms on land can be very bad because when it is cold the Acid-Rain
fall onto the street and freezes up. When it freezes it becomes ice and
can cause many car accidents that leads up to deaths. When Acid-Rains
falls it kills animals homes all at the same time leaving nothing but
broken trees and hard soil. As a result of their homes being near the
water environments their food that comes from the water will most likely
to harder to get because the population would be decreasing. People
help with Acid-Rain in away because we pollute the air with our cars and
other things that give off gas and Acid-Rain pollutes the air as it come
down so nature and humans are polluting the air. Acid- Rain do not
effect just water environments and land but one of the serious side
effects of acid rain on human is "respiratory" problems. The dioxide and
nitrogen oxide emission gives risk to respiratory problems such as dry
coughs, asthma, headaches, eye, nose, and throat irritation. Polluted
rainfall is especially harmful to those who suffer from asthma or those
who have a hard time breathing. But even healthy people can have their
lungs damaged by acid air and rain. Acid rain can aggravate a person's
ability to breathe and may increase disease which could lead to death.
The United States provide a glimpse of such costs. That acid
precipitation destroys, overall, $13,000 million annually in the eastern
part of the nation and could cause $1,750 million yearly in forest
damage, $8,300 million in crop damage in the Ohio River basin alone by
about the year 2000 and $40 million in health costs in the State of
Minnesota. The only cost-effective solution to the problem, according to
many people, is to reduce emissions at their point of origin. Anyone
investigating acid rain should update these figures. In conclusion, all
these things kills off the forest in so many different ways if it is not
by Acid-Rain then it is by cars. When we do things we are killing our
self. So Acid-Rain can kill things that we need so know everybody knows
about what it and everybody has heard of it and everybody knows what it
By Robert Brown
What kind of
destruction can/does acid rain cause?
Where does the
pollutant that forms acid rain come from? How is acid rain formed?
What kind of destruction
can/does acid rain cause?
This picture shows the total effects of
a factory polluting the air through these steps:
Conclusion on Acid Rain And Automobiles
In conclusion, the two primary sources of acid rain is sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Automobiles are the main source of nitrogen oxide emissions, and utility factories are the main source for sulfur dioxide emissions. These gases evaporate into the atmosphere and then oxidized in clouds to form nitric or nitrous acid and sulfuric acid. When these acids fall back to the earth they do not cause damage to just the environment but also to human health. Acid rain kills plant life and destroys life in lakes and ponds. The pollutants in acid rain causes problem in human respiratory systems. The pollutants attack humans indirectly through the foods they consumed. They effected human health directly when humans inhale the pollutants. Governments have passed laws to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, but it is no use unless people start to work together in stopping the release of these pollutants. If the acid rain destroys our environment, eventually it will destroy us as well.
Acid Rain And The Social Impact
The causes, effects, and how to prevent the amounts of acid rain is completely up to the human race. The cause of acid rain is simple. It’s the humans and their constant quest for the cheapest most efficient way to do things. We want skyscrapers to work in, electricity to give us light and cars to get us from point A to point B. The gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide are created from the production of steel and iron, utility factories and crude oil processing. The smelting of metal sulfate ore produces pure metal. This causes the release of sulfur dioxide. Metals such as zinc, nickel and copper are obtained by this process. There is cost efficient ways to obtain these things and then there is cleaner ways which are better for our environment. Of course the manufacturers are going to want to use the less costly. Their greed and their constant quest to have more and more is what seems to be the first area of concern to them. One can only have so much, then what is there? I’ll tell you what there isn’t and that’s satisfaction. We the people really don’t need more than what we use. Yet there is constant over indulgence in our society. Give me more and more and don’t forget to give it to me for free. The problem lies within the consumer as much as it does the producer. No one is at more fault than the other.