Acid Rain | Definition | Origin & Effects

Acid rain is one of the consequences of air and other environmental pollution. When coal, oil or gasoline’s are burned, they release harmful gases into the air. These gases mix with moisture that is always present in the air and form weak acid. Wind can carry the acidic droplets to a far distance. Eventually, these droplets return to the ground as acid rain or as acid hail, snow, sleet, or even fog.

Acid rain looks, feels and taste like clean rain. For humans, walking in acid rain, or even swimming in a lake polluted in acid rain, is no more dangerous than walking or swimming in clean water.

But acid rain is extremely harmful to the environment. It is a serious threat around the world and occurs when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emission from automobiles and fossil-fuel burning power fall back to earth as acidic precipitation.

The Origin of Acid Rain

Acid rain is not natural, and it is also not new. The problem is said to have begun in the 1700s with the industrial revolution. It has been growing ever since.

In the past, city air was sooty from thousands of coal fires, the soot turn building blacks and produced acid rain. Trees and other plants near large industrial cities were dead or dying.

Today, people burn less coal, but there are many more fuel burning power stations, cars, trucks, buses and aircraft. All of these pollute the air and contribute to acid rain. Most of the gases that produce acid rain come from power stations, factories and vehicles.

Power station and factory chimneys can be fitted with catalytic converters, which reduce the pollution in exhaust fumes. Unfortunately, the devices to reduce the acid gases are expensive, not all government companies and individuals are willing to spend the extra money on them.

The Effects of Acid Rain

When acid rain gets into lakes and streams, it kills the fish and other animals and plants that lives there. Many rivers in some developed countries no longer have any fish. All the fish have been killed by acid rain. Acid rain can also damage plant on land, including farm crops and forest as happened in some towns and villages in Nigeria last year.

Most farm crops including cocoyams were destroyed by the acid rain. The outside surface of stone building and monuments can also be corroded, or worn away by acid rain. Some of the world’s greatest building and monuments show signs of damage caused by acid rain. Acid rain eats away at the steel in bridges and railing as well.

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