If we would understand acid rain in its simplest form, it is the precipitation of acid in the form of rain. It drops down on the earth and causes different effects on different properties. It is an amalgamation of the pollutants present in the environment with the acids. It becomes precipitation and, thus, returns to our planet in the form of rain. It causes degradation to the crops and devastation to the spectacular monuments. This rain is not similar to normal rain because it is a combination of acids and pollutants.
The UPSC candidates must be aware of the acid rain causes and effects of pollution on the environment. If you want to grab all the potential information about this essentially read topic, keep reading below. This article has the answer to the question: What is Acid rain and its effect? Let’s begin with the most significant concept of the environment.
What is Acid Rain?
Well, this is the first point of the question in everyone’s mind. We visualize the effects of acid rain in our daily lives but the reality and concept of it are not known perfectly. Acid rain, as its name suggests, is the combination of acids that become rain due to precipitation. It can be simply understood as the pollutants of the environment adding up with rainwater and coming to the earth’s surface.
This is not difficult to understand but it should be remembered to answer the questions perfectly. The atmospheric pollutants are oxides of sulphur and nitrogen. These elements add up with the rainwater and cause acid rain. Let’s read further to acknowledge all the factors of; what is Acid rain and its effects?
Definition of Acid Rain
Acid rain is the combination of highly acidic water droplets and emissions of air. It is caused specifically by the disproportionate levels of sulphur and nitrogen emitted by vehicles and manufacturing processes. The atmospheric pollutants add together to make acid rain.
Why is it called acid rain? Well, this is the initial question that comes to our mind when we hear the word; acid rain. It is called acid rain because it contains many types of acidic precipitation and it is caused by the addition of acids.
The deposition of acids takes place in wet or dry precipitation processes. Wet deposition is a form of precipitation. It removes the pollutants or acids from the atmosphere and adds them to the earth’s surface. The dry precipitation takes place in the absence of precipitation. Dry deposition of polluting particles and gases sticks to the ground through dust and smoke. Acid rain is the cause of the degradation of the earth’s elements.
Acid Rain Causes
Do you think what causes acid rain? The major cause of Acid rain is the particles of nitrogen and sulphur that get amalgamated with water particles of rain to create acids and harm the beings on the Earth.
We must be aware of all the causes of this activity, especially if you are dreaming to serve the nation diligently, you have to know the area where precautions are needed.
This needs preventive measures to be taken as it is hazardous for agriculture, buildings and monuments, and human lives. We must know each factor responsible for the phenomena. Let’s acknowledge the prominent causes for this problematic scenario.
Visualization of Causes!
#1. Sulphur and Nitrogen particles add up with the water particles and come to the earth’s surface in the form of rain.
#2. The particles can be found in two ways: Man-made or natural. Man-made particles come out from the emissions from the industries. Natural particles are gathered from the environmental process. For example, sulphur comes out of a volcanic eruption, and the lightning striking in the atmosphere releases nitrogen ions.
#3. The word acid rain was invented in 1852. It was made by Scottish chemist Robert Angus Smith.
#4. The normal rain is not extremely harmful but it is not pure water as carbon oxide and water react to form weak carbonic acid. The reaction occurring for the normal rain is:
H2O (l) + CO2 (g) ⇌ H2CO3 (aq).
#5. The normal rain has a pH value of 5.7. This value makes it acidic.
#6. The cause of Acid rain is human beings. The dust particles and oxides of nitrogen and sulphur collect at the earth’s surface by the wind which results in acid rain. Human activities like the burning of fossil fuels, and unethical waste emission disposal techniques give rise to this phenomenon.
#7. Sulphuric and nitric acid is formed by the oxidation reaction of sulphur and nitrogen dioxide with water. These acids contribute to acid rain. The reaction occurring is:
2SO2 (g) + O2 (g) + 2H2O (l) → 2H2SO4 (aq)
4NO2 (g) + O2 (g) + 2H2O (l) → 4HNO3 (aq).
Effects of Acid Rain
Acid rain is harmful to all the living as well as the non-living creatures on the planet. It largely affects every crop, monument, and mammal. It should be preventive immediately with care and consideration to secure the flora and fauna. Being responsible citizens, we must safeguard the environment and animals around us. To do this, we must be aware of all the effects of acid rain.
If we don’t know about the different changes that it can cause, we will be unable to sort out the challenges for the beings. The authoritative personalities must have proper knowledge of the effects done by acid rain to resolve them. Let’s view them below and work for its prevention.
Let’s Learn the Effects!
#1. Acid rain causes respiratory issues in humans as well as animals. The oxides present in the water make the air harmful for the living beings to breathe in.
#2. It affects the monuments and buildings made up of metals and stones. The examples are Taj Mahal and the Statue of Liberty.
#3. Acid rain is harmful as it causes the corrosion of water pipes. It further results in the leaching of heavy metals. The metals that are affected by this activity are iron, lead, and copper that are put into drinking water.
#4. It affects agriculture, humans, and plants. It is responsible for washing away all the significant nutrients of the crop or soil that are beneficial for the survival of the crop. It alters the composition of the soil and affects the growth of the crop.
#5. The acids present in the rainwater degrades the quality of fertility in the land which affects agriculture.
#6. The rainwater also gets mixed with the rivers and ponds and affects the aquatic environment.
#7. It is responsible for modifying the chemical composition of the water present in the ponds and rivers which is harmful to aquatic beings. It also causes water pollution.
Example of Acid Rain Destruction
The biggest live example of Acid rain is the Taj Mahal. It is one of the 7 wonders of the world and visually spectacular. Taj Mahal is largely affected by acid rain because the city of Agra has many industries which emit sulphur and nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere. Low-quality coal and firewood are used in the industries as domestic fuel. It is adding problems to the environment.
The reason for the effect of acid rain on the Taj Mahal is the following reaction with the marble (calcium carbonate):
CaCO3 + H2SO4 → CaSO4 + H2O + CO2.
The corrosion of this beautiful monument is due to the formation of calcium sulphate. The colour has turned from yellow to white due to this corrosion.
Another big example is the Statue of Liberty. It is made up of copper and has been deteriorated by the cumulative action of acid rain. The prime reason for the damage of this fascinating place is the oxidation for over 30 years and is, therefore, becoming green.
Prevention from Acid Rain
Prevention from this harmful rain is essential to safeguard nature and human lives. Having a check at the emission of oxides of sulphur and nitrogen is the only precaution that we can take against acid rain. This must be known to you being a UPSC aspirant. Acid rain is not only to humans but also to animals, plants, and monuments. The example of the deterioration of the monument is given above.
If you are aspiring to be an administrative officer, you must be a responsible citizen first. You should be aware of the hazardous effects of acid rain and the industries which give out nitrogen and sulphur compound wastes unethically to work for its precaution and stoppage. It should be prevented to ensure healthy living and save the living as well as the non-living creatures from its harmful reach.
We know about the fading of colours of the beautiful monuments and degradation of the crops but the reason behind such effects is known to only a few. This is extremely important to know about the causes and effects of acid rain. We hope that this article has helped you in retrieving important information about acid rain.
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