Harmful Effects of Acid Rain on the Environment

Acid rain is a serious regional environmental problem and it affects various places of the world. Acid rain is very much dangerous to the ecosystems. The main cause of acid rain is the harmful poisonous gases which are emitted from the Earth’s surface to the atmosphere. In this article, we have explained about the causes and impacts of acid rain, which will help students to learn more about this serious environmental issue.

Causes of Acid Rain

Acid rain can be of any form of precipitation with high levels of sulfuric acids and nitric acids. Acid rain can occur in the form of fog, snow and tiny bits of dry materials that settle to earth. The main cause of acid rain is air pollution; the biggest contribution to it is the burning of fossil fuels by coal-burning power plants, automobiles, and factories. The natural cause of acid rains is rotting vegetation and erupting volcanoes which release sulphur dioxide.

These chemical gases form a mild solution of sulphuric acid and nitric acid when gets mixed with water and oxygen. When they fall in the form of rain, they are called acid rain.

Form of Acid Rain

Depending upon the temperature of the geographical region, it can fall in the form of rain and fog. In wet regions, it falls as acid rain; in the very cold region, it falls as acid fog or acid snow and dry regions get acid dust or acid gas.

Impact on forest

The acid rain has a huge impact on forests in several parts of the world. Hence, the trees are getting affected due to acid rain. The leaves of the trees have a waxy layered protection on them. This waxy layer gets damaged due to acid rain, which creates lots of barrier in the process of photosynthesis, as a result the leaves of the trees are not able to take in carbon dioxide and thus, it starts dying.

When acid rains fall, it also affects the soil and trees that need healthy soil to grow. Acid rain absorbed in the soil makes it impossible for trees and plants to grow because acid rain contains some poisonous metals such as aluminum, cadmium, and mercury.

Impact on water bodies

The effect of acid rain can also be seen in aquatic or water bodies such as lakes, marshes, and streams. Acid rains flow to streams and lakes after falling on forest, fields roads and buildings. It also falls directly on water bodies, most lakes and streams have pH between 6 and 8.  When acid rain mixes with water, it becomes harmful to sea animals and plants. It kills the algae and the inhibitors of the water and when these animals and plants die, they get decomposed and get settled at the bottom.

Impact of acid rains on Humans

Acid rain causes respiratory problems in humans. Children are most vulnerable to acid rain. They develop lung and breathing-related problems more easily than adults.  Side effects of acid rain are not only seen when we are in direct contact with it, but also in indirect contact. For example fruits and vegetables that come in direct contact with acid rain can also harm when eaten. 

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