Guide to Acid Rain and Related Resources
Nature produces acid rain naturally from decaying vegetation and volcanic ash, yet humans create the majority. Acid rain is made up of high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids and does not have to be rain. Snow, sleet, and fog, can contain the same chemicals.
Burning fossil fuels such as coal for energy and production sends mixtures of wet and dry deposition to be distributed into the atmosphere. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are expelled into the wind causing acid rain to sometimes fall hundreds of miles from the source and get into water and soil. Wet deposition is when the acid chemicals attaché to moisture in the air and later fall as rain or snow. This makes acidic water that then gets in the ground affecting plants and wildlife.
Acid rain damages lakes, streams, and wetlands by making waters acidic which creates water that is toxic to many aquatic animals. In addition, other animals that drink the water and eat aquatic life are also affected. Acid rain damages forest growth by depleting the soil essential nutrients.
Acid rain causes low pH which has a surge of harmful effects on fish and can eradicate entire species from a body of water. Because acid rain flows in a watershed, soils, lakes and streams are all damaged. Low pH and higher aluminum levels are toxic to fish and causes chronic stress that makes fish unhealthy. Many plants and animals are acid-sensitive and will die off when the pH declines.
The acid chemicals that cause acid rain can also be distributed in dry climates as dust or smoke and fall to the ground and adhere to buildings, cars, and trees. The particles are often washed away by people or rain and result in acidic runoff water.
See effects on:
You cannot detect acid rain from clean rain. The injury caused to humans is not instant. Exposure by being in the rain or swimming in acid rain is not any more dangerous than clean water. The particles of acid rain do damage human health when inhaled. Scientific studies have shown a correlation between higher levels of these particles and illness including heart and lung disorders, such as asthma and bronchitis.
Acid Rain Facts http://www.eoearth.org/article/Acid_rain?topic=49506
Learn more about the effects on forest ecosystems including recent research that shows that acid deposition has contributed to the decline of red spruce trees throughout the eastern U.S. and sugar maple trees in central and western Pennsylvania.
Acid rain can only be reduced by slowing or stopping the pollutants from burning fossil fuels.
Governments are working to slow emissions with cleaner standards for industry and research for alternative fuel sources. But the damage has been done and will take years to reverse.
What Can You Do?
There are many ways you can help reduce acid rain and that starts by saving energy.
When you use less power, fewer fossil fuels are burned and power plants emit fewer pollutants.
Cars also cause fossil fuel pollution so driving less, getting a more eco friendly car, using public transportation, carpooling, or biking or walking instead of driving wherever possible can help.
Creating electric power is the number one cause of pollution in the US. Fossil fuels such as coal are usually burned to generate electricity, which causes pollution and subsequently acid rain.
Every time each one of us turns on a computer or light we are contributing to acid rain.
Some things that you can do to make acid rain less of a problem are:
- Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full
- Turn off the lights in empty rooms
- Lower the temperature of your hot water tank and turn off the hot water tank when you will be gone for any extended period.
- Turn heat down
- Don’t use your air conditioner as much
- Follow the reduce, reuse, and recycle program
- Burn less fires
Home Energy Magazine http://www.homeenergy.org/
Home Energy magazine provides practical information on residential energy efficiency, performance, comfort, and affordability. Much of the content is by researchers in design, building, and remodeling practices and products. The organization is a nonprofit company.
Home Power http://homepower.com/home/
Resources for solar, hydro, and wind power for your home.
Energy Star http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_improvement.hm_improvement_index
Information and a system for a comprehensive, whole-house approach to improving energy efficiency and home comfort, while helping to protect the environment.
Energy Australia http://www.energyaustralia.com.au/
Energy Australia not only supplies electricity and gas with the largest network in the country, but has information on and promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy alternatives.
Heating water often accounts for up to 20% of home energy costs and ranks third as an energy user. Purchase an energy efficient hot water heater.
Learn how hot water heaters work including the new tankless hot water heaters.
Expert advice on hot water heaters.
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Recycling programs are available in many countries. In order to help reduce the emissions that cause acid rain, approach your consumption habits on a” reduce, reuse, recycle philosophy.” Reduce what you buy and use, reuse what you can, and then recycle what you cannot use.
See the benefits of recycling and how to get started.
Earth 911 http://earth911.com/recycling/
A breakdown on recycling electronics, hazardous materials, plastic, paper, automotive items, metal, glass, garden waste, household items and construction materials.
Australian Government Waste and Recycling Information and Fact Sheets http://www.environment.gov.au/settlements/waste/index.html
Zero Waste New Zealand http://www.zerowaste.co.nz/
Information on the Zero Waste project in New Zealand.
Acid Rain Crossword Puzzle http://www.surfnetkids.com/games/acidrain-cwpp.htm
Teacher’s Guide for Acid Rain http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/education/teachersguide.pdf
Acid Rain Fact Sheet http://www.in.gov/idem/4576.htm
Acid Rain and How It Affects Our Environment http://mypages.iit.edu/~smile/bi8811.html
Teachers should find this project and experiment helpful for teaching kids about acid rain.
Acid Rain Simulation http://mste.illinois.edu/beusch/acidrain.html
Science lab acid rain simulation.
Acid Rain Web Quest http://classes.mhcc.edu/web/ch221_mr/wq/rain/rainwq.htm
Useful for teaching students all about acid rain.
Chemistry of Acid Rain http://www.uwlax.edu/faculty/skala/Acid-Rain.htm
Acid rain worksheet to teach about the causes of acid rain and pH levels.
The pH Factor http://www.miamisci.org/ph/index.html
An extensive teaching guide for acidity levels in rain.
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