Acid Rain - Effects & Control

Acid Rain - Effects & Control
Acid Rain - Effects & Control

Oxides of sulfur and nitrogen originating from industrial operations and fossil fuel combustion are the major sources of acid forming gases. Acid forming gases are oxidized over several days by which time they travel several thousand kilometers. In the atmosphere these gases are ultimately converted into sulfuric and nitric acids. Hydrogen chloride emission forms hydrochloric acid. These acids cause acidic rain. Acid rain is only one component of acidic deposition. Acidic decomposition is the total wet acidic deposition (acid rain) and dry deposition. Rain water is turned acidic when its pH falls below 5.6. In fact clean or natural rain water has a pH of 5.6 at 20˚ c because of formation of carbonic acid due to dissolution of CO2 in water. In absence of rain, dry deposition of acid may occur. Acid forming gases like oxides of sulphur and nitrogen and acid aerosols get deposited on the surface of water bodies, vegetation, soil and other materials. On moist surfaces or in liquids these acid forming gases can dissolve an form acids similar to that formed in acid rain. 

Effects of acid rain

Acid rain causes a number of harmful effects below pH 5.1. The effects are visible in the aquatic even at pH less than 5.5. 
1. It causes deterioration of buildings especially made of marble e.g. monuments like Taj Mahal. Crystals of calcium and magnesium sulphate are formed as a result of corrosion caused by acid rain. 

2. It damages stone statues. Priceless stone statues in Greece and Italy have been partially dissolved by acid rain. 

3. It damages metals and car finishes. 

4. Aquatic life especially fish are badly affected by lake acidification.

5. Aquatic animals suffer from toxicity of metals such as aluminium, mercury, manganese, zinc and lead which leak from the surrounding rocks due to acid rain. 

6. It results in reproductive failure, and killing of fish. 

7. Many lakes of Sweden, Norway, and Canada have become fishless due to acid rain. 

8. It damages foliage and weakens trees.

9. It makes trees more susceptible to stresses like cold temperature, drought, etc . Many insects and fungi are more tolerant to acidic conditions and hence they can attack the susceptible trees and cause diseases. 

Control measures

1. Emission of SO2 and NO2 from industries and power plants should be reduced by using pollution control equipments.
2. Liming of lakes and soils should be done to correct the adverse effects of acid rain. 

3. A coating of protective layer of inert polymer should be given in the interior of water pipes for drinking water.

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