The acid rain is a broad term that incorporates different forms of precipitation that have acid components in them. Since precipitation includes dust, gases, snow, hail or fog, the resulting rain is usually harmful to both animals and plants. Acid rain occurs as a result of air pollution emanating from burnt fuel by vehicles and contains different chemicals. As a result, fish are dying-plants are drying. The acid rain is also deemed to have indirect impacts on humans such severe lung diseases since the air we breathe is polluted by acidic compounds. This research will highlight the nature of acid rain, causes, the way it affects living things and the preventive measures that ought to be taken.
Nature and Causes of Acid Rain
Acid rain occurs due to chemical reactions that start when such compounds as nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxides are discharged in the atmosphere. When these chemicals rise and mix with water droplets in the clouds, they form a more acidic component called acid rain. In most scenarios, sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide are produced on the surface but are easily carried by the wind for long distances and easily dissolve in water and other compounds to form acid rain (Johnson). Eventually, with the rain, the chemicals return to the earth surface.
Human activities, including industrialization, have led to the release of various harmful gases and chemicals to the atmosphere, which has altered the air composition in the air. Besides, the heavy machinery generators used in manufacturing companies are leaders in the production of nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide when fossil fuel is burnt (Johnson). Moreover, the exhaust smoke from vehicles also contributes to the emission of these two compounds and upon mixing with water, acid rain results. However, some acid rains occur naturally. When alkaline chemicals and other non-acidic compounds in the soil and the lake react, the natural acid is neutralized. If the precipitation formed becomes too acidic, the mixture of alkaline chemicals and other materials cannot neutralize all the acid in the rain, and therefore the rain remains acidic. From a biology perspective, decaying vegetation and other biological processes in the ecosystem are also contributors of acid rain. Dimethyl sulfide is also a significant contributor of sulfur compounds in the atmosphere. Similarly, the light strike generates nitric oxide that naturally combines with water molecules under electric charges to form nitric acid inform of acid rain.
Effects of the Acid Rain to Plants and Animals
The ecological impact of the acid rain is mainly seen in the aquatic environments. The acid rain introduces aluminum and other acidic compounds in water making the pH of water less than 6. Some of aquatic plants and organisms are unable to cope with the conditions, and they may start to roast as the pH declines. Besides, most of the young species in water are more acid-sensitive than the adult species. Under such acidic environment, eggs from an aquatic organism such as fish cannot hatch, and the chances of young ones surviving are very low (Johnson). Therefore, acid rain does not only damage the plant but also inhibit the growth as well.
Since acid rain is deposited in the soil, the life of micro-organism is affected making them unable to undertake decomposition of organic matter. Such rain will make the organic substance to decay and not provide the essential nutrients to the soil. Likewise, waxy layers of leaves are destroyed by the rain, making the plant prone to infections. When plants are vulnerable to infections, they become weak in a manner that their surviving capabilities in times of strong wind and storm are decreased. Furthermore, the rain inhibits the germination of the plant and makes the tree unable to absorb water from the soil(Johnson).Thus, the longer the unfavorable milieu lasts, the less likely chances of reproduction.
Similarly, animals are affected by acid rain in immense ways. The aquatic species may endure a lower pH but their prey cannot survive, and therefore they may eventually die. For instance, a frog can live in water with a pH 4, but they feed on mayflies that cannot stand a pH of less than 5.5. Therefore, frogs are considered to have few chances of surviving due to lack of food (Johnson). Acid rain also caused the population of fish to decline to make the population of fish-eating animal such as bears have less food and therefore low chance of survival. Both plant and animals are considered to inter-link because one lives by killing the other. When one is eliminated from the food chain, the other organisms will be affected enormously.
Although people consider it risky to walk in acidic rain or to swim in lakes with acid water, the acid in the water is too dilute and the pH of the water is not enough to destroy the skin. Therefore, acid rain does not have a direct effect on human skin. According to research conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, walking in an acid rain was confirmed to have no direct but some indirect impacts. The sulfur dioxide particles in the acid rain mixes with the air lowering the quality of air, and individuals become vulnerable to various chronic lung diseases such as asthma and pneumonia (Boumis). Since the acid rain has not reached the severe phase, different measures can be employed to rectify the situation.
Preventive Measures for Acid Rain
Acid rain is considered a significant threat in the globe today which required numerous researches to be conducted to establish the best practices to prevent acid rain. In this regard, there are many other practices that ordinary individuals can do to help environmental agencies prevent rain. First, the most effective way to prevent acid rain is to reduce energy consumption. In this instance, people should limit the use of gasoline running items, switch off lights and electrical appliances when you are not using them. Since the primary cause of the acid rain is the decrease of the pH level in water as a result of gas particles in the air, reducing consumption of gasoline will be an essential step. Secondly, people should learn how to drive their vehicles efficiently. Different ways can aid in reducing smoke emissions (Raghuvanshi). Learning how to follow simple road instruction such as traffic lights will help to minimize the emission. Heeding such instruction and other essential practices can save gas and make the cost of fuel low.
Thirdly, the government should focus on establishing other forms of energy that can be used to run both cars and industrial machinery. Fossil fuel should be gradually discouraged and ensure other forms of energy are introduced to the people and companies. For instance, in Germany and France, solar energy, electricity, nuclear and wind are used as a source of power to eliminate the pollutants. Furthermore, people are advised to avoid uses of cars and buses and instead use cycles or walks, especially for short distances. Sharing of cars, like Lyft, for people going the same direction is in essence the most effective way to prevent acid rain. Besides, lights and computer should be turned off when they are not in use along with other electric compliances to conserve the energy (Raghuvanshi). Air conditioning and heaters should only be used when the need arises. This practice will help an individual to save more energy and incur less cost.
Acid rain is a form of precipitation that may occur in dry and wet form. The precipitation begins when sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide mix with the water particles in the air forming acid rain. Human activities are considered the main contributor to acid rain. Most of the cars and industrial plants emit gases that contain a sulfur component, to the atmosphere. Acid rain has a significant effect on both plants and animals. Aquatic animals are the ones that are profoundly affected, especially those that are less tolerant to lower pH of water. Acid rain also inhibits the growth of trees and plants since the micro-organisms responsible in nutrient formation are destroyed. However, research shows that acid rain cannot have a direct effect on the human skin since the acid is too dilute to corrode. Therefore, people should learn different practices such as the use of alternative energies to run machinery to avoid fossil fuel.
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Boumis, Robert. “Negative Health Effects of Acid Rain on Humans.” Sciencing, 25 April 2017, sciencing.com/negative-health-effects-acid-rain-humans-24007.html. Accessed 19 April 2019
Johnson, L. Raymond. “How Does Acid Rain Affect Plants and Animals?” The Weather Station, 23 July 2018, the-weather-station.com/acid-rain-affect-plants-and-animals/ Accessed 18 April 2019
Raghuvanshi, Kulbhushaan. “Acid Rain Prevention” Help Save Nature, helpsavenature.com/acid-rain-prevention Accessed 18 April 2019