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Natural Rain
"Normal" rainfall is slightly acidic(dissolved carbonic acid). The pH of "normal" rain has traditionally been given a value of 5.6.


Acid Rain
It is defined as precipitation in which has pH below 5.6. Acid rain or acid snow is a direct result of the method that the atmosphere cleans itself. The tiny droplets of water that make up clouds, continuously capture suspended solid particles and gases in the atmosphere.

The gases of sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides are

chemically converted into sulfuric and nitric acids.
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The non-metal oxide gases react with water to produce acids Example: SO2 + HOH ===> H2SO3 2 NO2 + HOH ===> HNO2 + HNO3 SO3 + HOH===> H2SO4 CO2 + HOH ===> H2CO3 Natural rain contain carbonic acid.
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When enough of the tiny cloud droplets clump together to form a larger water drop it may fall to the earth as "wet" acid precipitation including rain, snow, ice, sleet, or fog.


Acid Rain


Acid Rain Formation


Acid Rain Transport

The reactions of sulfur oxides to form sulfuric acid are

quite slow.
Sulfur dioxide may remain airborne for 3-4 days. As a consequence acid rain derived from sulfur oxides may travel for hundreds of miles or even a thousand miles. Nitrogen oxides may persist for only about one half day and therefore may travel only tens or hundreds of miles.
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Once airborne, the sulfur and nitrogen oxides eventually come down in one form or another. Where they come down depends on the height of the smokestack and the prevailing weather


In general, prevailing winds in North America

transport pollutants from west to east or northeast.
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Sources of Sulfur Oxides

Natural sources of sulfur dioxide include releases from
Volcanoes Oceans Biological decay Frest fires

The most important man-made sources of sulfur dioxide are fossil

fuel combustion, smelting, manufacture of sulfuric acid, conversion

of wood pulp to paper, incineration of refuse and production of elemental sulfur.
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Wood Smoke

Wood smoke containing solid particles can

provide the initial bit of solid or catalyst that

initiates the reactions to produce sulfuric acid or

nitric acid in the water droplets. So steps should be taken to reduce the burning of wood.
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Sources of Nitrogen Oxides

Natural Sources - Lighting Bolts:

A natural source of nitrogen oxides occurs from a lightning stroke.

The very high temperature in the vicinity of a lightning bolt causes the gases oxygen and nitrogen in the air to react to form nitric

The nitric oxide very quickly reacts with more oxygen to form nitrogen dioxide. Both of the nitrogen compounds are known collectively as nitrogen oxides or NOx.
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Human Sources of Nitrogen Oxides

At very high temperatures nitrogen and oxygen react together to

form nitric oxide.

These conditions are found in the combustion of coal and oil at electric power plants, and also during the combustion of gasoline in

In areas of high automobile traffic, such as in large cities, the amount of nitrogen oxides emitted into the atmosphere can be quite

In the Los Angeles area, the main source of acid rain is from automobiles.
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Cation Exchange
The cations like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other metals are attached to the clay and humus particles in the soil. Calcium ion is used For cell formation in the processes that transport sugars, water, and other nutrients from the roots to the leaves Magnesium ion play a vital role in photosynthesis used as a carrier of phosphorus which is 6/7/2010 important in the production of DNA. 17

Soils having inadequate buffering capacity undergo increase in acidity. Low pH results in reduced soil fertility Increased acidity results in:
Cation Exchange Leaching of Nutrients Mobilization of Aluminum Mobilization of Toxic Metals Accumulation of sulfur and nitrogen
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The hydrogen ions in the sulfuric acid trade places with the metal ions. Leaching or washing out of these cations from top soil into lower inaccessible subsoil. Therefore not available for plant growth. Low Ca content of soil excludes earthworms thus impeding the decomposition of organic matter in soil.
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Soil Affected by Acid Rain



Leaching of Nutrients



Mobilization of Aluminum
Increased acidity can mobilize the Al from insoluble toxic Al (OH)3 Below pH 5, aluminum ions are dissolved into the water and become toxic to plants. The sulfuric acid reacts with the aluminum hydroxide in a neutralization reaction. Al(OH)3 + H2SO4 --> Al2(SO4 )3 + H2CO3 The aluminum sulfate is soluble in water and are thus released from the soil particles.
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Consequences of Al Mobilization
Stunting of root growth Prevent the roots from Ca up take Lower pH and Al mobilization can reduce populations of soil microorganisms.



Mobilization of Toxic Metals

The toxic metals including lead, mercury, zinc, copper,

cadmium, chromium, manganese, and vanadium can also

get mobilized because of higher amounts of acids. These may all contribute to slow the growth of a tree. In addition, this combination of toxic metals may also adversely effect the growth of soil bacteria, mosses, algae, fungi, and earthworms.



Accumulation of Sulfur & Nitrogen

Acid deposition results in the accumulation of sulfur and nitrogen in forest soils. As sulfate is released from the soil, it acidifies nearby streams and lakes. The recovery of surface waters in response to

emission controls has therefore been delayed .

Similar is the case for nitrogen.
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Effects on Vegetation
Acid rains damage vegetation through
increasing soil acidity decreasing nutrient availability Mobilizing toxic metals

Impacts include:
Foliage damage Thinning of crown Shedding of trees and needles Absorption of toxic metals
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Effect on Fresh Water Ecosystem

As acids increase there is a large reduction in the

number of zooplankton, phytoplankton, mollusks.

There is a slowdown in the rate of decomposition of

dead plants and animals.

Fish are directly effected by interfering with their

reproductive cycles.
A calcium deficiency in fish leads to bone



Fish can suffocate because of excessive mucous production by gills due to presence of Al. Songbirds are effected by eating insects

contaminated with toxic metals. Birds living in affected areas are likely to lay eggs with thin fragile shells. Eggs, sperm, developing young, bugs, insects may be particularly sensitive to small changes in pH.
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Acid Rain Effects on Buildings

Acids have a corrosive effect on limestone or marble buildings or sculptures. It is well established that either wet or dry deposition of sulfur dioxide significantly increases the rate of corrosion on limestone, sandstone, and marble.

SO2 + H2O --> H2SO3

SO3 + H2O --> H2SO4
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The sulfuric acid then further reacts with the limestone in a neutralization reaction. CaCO3 + H2SO4 --> CaSO4 + H2CO3 H2CO3 --> CO2 gas + H2O The calcium sulfate is soluble in water and hence the limestone dissolves and crumble.
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Effects on Human Health

Respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma that can cause death. Toxic metals like Cd, Hg etc become soluble in acid lakes and enter the food chain. In Norway, the intake of Al in acidified waters have been linked to chronic renal failures.
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The NOx in acid deposition also reacts with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to form ground-

level ozone.

Ozone, or smog, aggravates and weakens the

respiratory system.



Control of Acid Rains

Control/ reduce the emissions of oxides of sulfur and nitrogen. Technologies to reduce oxides of sulfur include:
Use coal with low sulfur content (0-1% ) Fuel desulfurization (removes sulfur from coal) Fluidized bed technology (reduces SO2 emissions during combustion) Flue gas desulfurization ( removes sulfur gases using lime slurry in scrubbers) 6/7/2010 36





Similar approaches can be used to reduce NOx from industrial emissions. Scrubbers can be used to remove NOx from industrial emissions. Catalytic convertors and lean burn engines can

reduce NOx from automobile exhausts.

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Periodic addition of lime CaCO3 can help in rehabilitating the acidified lakes. This results in
Neutralizing acidity Increase calcium level in soil and water Precipitate Al and toxic metals from solution

This treatment is being used in UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada and USA.
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Increase efficiency of power plants that burn coal in order to reduce waste that contains sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide

Increase penalties on industries that do not meet air

pollution guidelines

Increase tax incentives to industries that do meet

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sources; for example, give tax incentives to buyers of hybrid cars Provide tax incentives to companies that use alternative energy sources