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Acid Rain

Essay by   •  November 21, 2010  •  322 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,628 Views

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Acid rain occurs when of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are emitted into the atmosphere. They then go through chemical transformations and are absorbed by water droplets in clouds. Acid rain is a term referring to a mixture of wet and dry deposition from the atmosphere containing abnormal amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. Acid rain is cause by volcanoes and decaying vegetation, but emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) resulting from fossil fuel combustion is the main contributor.

Even though fuel combustion emitting sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are higher in some areas, acid rain does not always occur near the source of the pollution. Due to high winds, these compounds can be blown hundreds of miles away. In 1990, The Clean Air Act Amendments was passed to address the issue of acid rain. This allowed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue permits to electric plants and coal-burning power plants. These permits specified how much SO2 each plant can release. They also allowed the auctioning and selling of these permits which could be a contributor to the acid rain being worse in some areas more than others. Some rocks and soil can be a natural buffer for acid rain. Rocks such as limestone can neutralize acids (Limestone: CaCO3 + H2SO4 --> CaSO4 + H2CO3).

Acid rain does not damage human health directly. Acid rain is just like clean rain when falling from the sky but the sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) does harm human health. The sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are particles that can be inhaled and can lead to increase illness and premature death from heart and lung disorder. Acid rain also contributed to the corrosion of metals and deterioration of paint and stone, slower growth in plants, and harm or kill fish. Acid rain is damaging to most aspects of life.

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