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Acid Rain

Author: Abhinav Kotapati

Acid Rain is a type of precipitation with acidic components that can occur in both wet and dry forms. The two most prominent chemicals in acid rain include sulfuric acid and citric acid. These chemicals react with water in the atmosphere to produce acid rain. Furthermore, acid rain can occur in rain, snow, fog, hail, and dust, and be just as acidic. Acid Rain can harm the environment, marine life, and forests, as well as put human health in extreme danger. Acid Rain is caused by the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide into the air by wind and currents. The emission is mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels. These acidic chemicals react with water and form acid rain. The main reason acidic components are transported into the air is due to wasted energy and the burning of fossil fuels. The acidic components have the ability to rise very high and very quickly into the air which allows them to rapidly react with water and oxygen.

Where Acid Rain Occurs

Acid Rain occurs in any part of the world that burns fossil fuels and doesn't use renewable energy. It occurs more commonly in places such as the Northeastern United States, Eastern Europe, China, and India. These places burn the most fossil fuels, so as an effect, have the most acid rain. To add on, most of the wind currents and wind directions blow toward the areas shown below on the map. Because of these directional forces, more of the acidic components are deposited into particular areas. Acid Rain affects the entire United States but plays a bigger role on the east coast in two states, New York and Rhode Island. Acid Rain affects these states the most because they pollute the air too much and burn too many fossil fuels resulting in an excess amount of acid in the air which then turns into acid rain harming the environment. Also, fossil fuels and coal mines used and ruined in the west of the United States usually get blown and deposited into the northeastern part of the United States, the deposit of this debris causes more acid rain in the northeastern part of the United States.

The Chemistry

Acid Rain is produced because acidic chemicals like sulfuric acid, nitric acid, and carbonic acid mix with water. The chemical formula of sulfuric acid is H2SO4, the chemical formula of nitric acid is HNO3, and the chemical formula of carbonic acid is H2CO3. The acidic chemicals come from the burning of fossil fuels and the water is produced in the clouds during rain. When the acidic chemicals are released into the air, they mix with water to form acid rain. The acidity of acid rain can be measured using the ph scale. The ph scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is. 0 is when the substance is very acidic and 14 is when the substance is very basic. Unpolluted freshwater is in the neutral position on a ph scale at 7.0. Clean Rain is at the 5.0/5.5 range and acid rain is at the 4.0 range. This low ph value can be very harmful to collateral structures, humans, and even marine life. The acidity of the rain mixes with ocean water and substantially lowers the ph of ocean water.

Effects of Acid Rain

Acid Rain can cause prominent damage to buildings and structures. The acid in the rain dissolves the stone and metal in the structure and wears down the building much faster. After people realized acid rain was a big problem in the world, they started to construct buildings differently without using metals, limestones, and marbles. Instead, people constructed buildings with brick, granite, quartz, and feldspar because these materials didn’t get affected by acid rain as much. Acid Rain has a prominent effect on water and sea life. It lowers the pH of ocean and lake water and makes the water more acidic. The acidity can be harmful to fish and other wildlife, potentially killing them. Acid Rain can also transfer aluminum from the soil into water streams which can be harmful to sea life. Scientists say that acid rain is one of the reasons for the decline of marine life. Acid rain has a large effect on vegetation and the quality of plants. When acid rain falls it sinks into the grounds and travels to the plant roots. For wild plants, the only form of water is rainwater, which is turned into acid rain. The acid in the water blocks essential nutrients such as calcium and deposits aluminum in the plant roots. This makes it hard for the plants to take up water and they end up becoming very weak or dying. as a result.

Conclusion: Solving Acid Rain

As much as acid rain remains a big problem for the world, humans can reduce the acidity of rain and create a cleaner environment. One way to reduce acid rain is by reducing the burning of fossil fuels. By bringing fewer fossil fuels, fewer acid substances are getting emitted into the air which means fewer acid components in rain. Another way to reduce acid rain is by using energy more efficiently. Humans need to turn off lights and be efficient with appliances around their homes in order to reduce their carbon footprint which can then potentially reduce acid rain. Furthermore, humans can use more renewable energy such as solar and wind power in order to efficiently burn energy. Also, people can burn less gasoline by carpooling and using public transportation when traveling. Although acid rain remains a huge problem in the world, people can do many things to rescue it and create a cleaner environment.


About the Author: Abhinav Kotapati

Abhinav is a junior at Robbinsville High School. He likes researching and writing about the economy, anatomy, physiology, biology, and physics. He also participates in a variety of clubs and extracurriculars including Red Cross, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Tennis, and Junior Firefighting. He hopes to achieve a career in medical research working with patients and doing lab work.


Works Cited

  1. Acid rain and water. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

  2. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Acid rain. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

  3. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). EPA. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

  4. Nunez, C. (2021, May 4). Acid rain. Environment. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

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