Acid rain is mixed with certain chemicals, including Hydrocarbons. Nitrogen Oxides are created naturally from bacteria, volcanoes and lightening. From the burning of fossil fuels we get chemicals like Sulphur Dioxide, Sulphur Trioxide and Carbon Dioxide. When Carbon Dioxide is mixed with water we get Carbonic Acid. When Nitrogen Oxides are mixed correctly with water it can create Nitric Acid. When Sulphur Dioxide is mixed with water it creates Sulphurous Acid.
And when Sulphur Trioxide is mixed with Sulphur Dioxide and water it can create the lethal Sulphuric Acid. Ozone Depletion also impacts on this as its releasing CFC’s which then add to the impact from acid rain. Acid rain can corrode metal structures such as railway tracks and overhead power cables. It can also erode cement, marble and especially limestone buildings. It can take a longer time in some cases due to what the material is, but the evidence is shown a lot of most buildings.
Acidic water affects the growth and health of fish and other aquatic life, by reducing the pH of the water and impacting the health and breeding success of the fish and aquatic invertebrates. Death of aquatic organisms due to damaged exoskeleton development as the calcium compounds become more soluble. So there is less calcium in the food chain (for fish bones and birds egg shells). PH5 mucus on fish gills, pH4 species decline. It also dissolves metals out of sediments and rocks to increase the metals (lead) in the water.
These can be taken up by the plants and contaminate the associated seeds or fruit. Phytotoxicity is a toxic effect by a compound on plant growth. Such damage may be caused by a wide variety of compounds, including trace metals, pesticides, salinity, phytotoxins or allelopathy as acids damage enzyme function cells in stomata, root hairs. Seed germination is inhibited by acidic conditions. Lichens are especially sensitive to acids. Osmosis, in the water, will affect the aquatic life as well as respiration in the fish themselves, it can harm them.
Acid rain impacts crop growth and soil structure. It can affect the growth of plants as many plants have a specific soil pH for optimum growth. In addition it can leach nutrients out of the topsoil, into the groundwater and into the water table. The leaching of nutrients from the soil makes them unavailable to plant life. Acid precipitation can change the ionic balance in clayey soils, affecting their structure.
The pollutants that cause acid rain, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, are inhaled and cause an increase in heart and lung conditions (and premature death). Respiratory illness such as asthma and bronchitis are more common and can lead to pulmonary (heart) disease.
Acid rain can also harm organisms by causing other changes that are harmful to living organisms. Soil can be deflocculated by acids where the particles that form peds separate causing the peds to collapse, filling the soil spaces and making the soil less permeable. Lime soils are less affected. Acids increase solubility of ions of metals such as Ca2+ and Al3+ ions which poison organisms. Heavy metals such as lead and mercury are more soluble under acidic conditions, this bio accumulates and bio magnify. (Affect animal’s nervous systems, liver and kidneys)
Organisms have an increased susceptibility to pests and disease, waxy cuticles of leaves are removed. Nutrient recycling is reduced as soil bacteria are killed by acid and heavy metal bioaccumulation. Plant diversity is affected, less tolerant species removed first. The Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, often abbreviated as Air Pollution or CLRTAP, is intended to protect the human environment against air pollution and to gradually reduce and prevent air pollution, including long-range transboundary air pollution. The whole point of this organisation is to gradually reduce and prevent air pollution. Parties develop policies and strategies to combat the discharge of air pollutants through exchanges of information, consultation, research and monitoring.
Courtney from Study Moose
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