Acid Rain

Explain the formation and effects of acid rain

  • Rain is normally slightly acidic (pH between 5 and 6) due to the formation of carbonic acid from carbon dioxide.
  • Acid rain: Rain that has a higher hydrogen ion concentration than normal (pH less than 5).
  • Other than carbonic acid, the acids generally present in acid rain are sulfuric and nitric acids, which are formed by sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen respectively.

Formation of acid rain

  • The effects of acid rain include:
    • Increased acidity of lakes, which leads to decreased populations of many aquatic species, including fish, whose eggs will not hatch in acidic conditions.
    • Damage and loss of plant leaves, which leads to damage to forest trees, such as in many pine forests in Europe and North America.
    • Chemical weathering and erosion of stone buildings and structures, which contain carbonates that react with the acids, as well as metal structures.
    • Damage to soils due to the dissolving of minerals by the acid rain and the release of toxic levels of heavy metals.

Two examples of acid rain damage

Easychem - Acid rain