Acid Rain

This essay has a total of 1841 words and 9 pages.

Acid Rain

Acid Rain

INTRODUCTION: Acid rain is a great problem in our world. It causes fish
and plants to die in our waters. As well it causes harm to our own race as
well, because we eat these fish, drink this water and eat these plants. It
is a problem that we must all face together and try to get rid of. However
acid rain on it's own is not the biggest problem. It cause many other
problems such as aluminum poisoning. Acid Rain is deadly.

WHAT IS ACID RAIN?
Acid rain is all the rain, snow, mist etc that falls from the sky onto
our planet that contains an unnatural acidic. It is not to be confused with
uncontaminated rain that falls, for that rain is naturally slightly acidic.
It is caused by today's industry. When products are manufactured many
chemicals are used to create it. However because of the difficulty and cost
of properly disposing of these products they are often emitted into the
atmosphere with little or no treatment.

The term was first considered to be important about 20 years ago when
scientists in Sweden and Norway first believed that acidic rain may be
causing great ecological damage to the planet. The problem was that by the
time that the scientist found the problem it was already very large.
Detecting an acid lake is often quite difficult. A lake does not become
acid over night. It happens over a period of many years, some times
decades. The changes are usually to gradual for them to be noticed early.

At the beginning of the 20th century most rivers/lakes like the river
Tovdal in Norway had not yet begun to die. However by 1926 local inspectors
were noticing that many of the lakes were beginning to show signs of death.
Fish were found dead along the banks of many rivers. As the winters ice
began to melt off more and more hundreds upon hundreds more dead fish
(trout in particular) were being found. It was at this time that scientist
began to search for the reason. As the scientists continued to work they
found many piles of dead fish, up to 5000 in one pile, further up the
river. Divers were sent in to examine the bottom of the rivers. What they
found were many more dead fish. Many live and dead specimens were taken
back to labs across Norway. When the live specimens were examined they were
found to have very little sodium in their blood. This is typical a typical
symptom of acid poisoning. The acid had entered the gills of the fish and
poisoned them so that they were unable to extract salt from the water to
maintain their bodies sodium levels.

Many scientist said that this acid poising was due to the fact that it
was just after the winter and that all the snow and ice was running down
into the streams and lakes. They believed that the snow had been exposed to
many natural phenomena that gave the snow it's high acid content. Other
scientists were not sure that this theory was correct because at the time
that the snow was added to the lakes and streams the Ph levels would change
from around 5.2 to 4.6. They believed that such a high jump could not be
attributed to natural causes. They believed that it was due to air
pollution. They were right. Since the beginning of the Industrial
revolution in England pollution had been affecting all the trees,soil and
rivers in Europe and North America.

However until recently the loses of fish was contained to the southern
parts of Europe. Because of the constant onslaught of acid rain lakes and
rivers began to lose their ability to counter act their affects. Much of
the alkaline elements; such as calcium and limestone; in the soil had been
washed away. It is these lakes that we must be worried about for they will
soon become extinct.

A fact that may please fishermen is that in lakes/rivers they tend to
catch older and larger fish. This may please them in the short run however
they will soon have to change lakes for the fish supply will die quickly in
these lakes. The problem is that acid causes difficulties the fish's
reproductive system. Often fish born in acid lakes do not survive for they
are born with birth defects such as twisted and deformed spinal columns.
This is a sign that they are unable to extract enough calcium from the
water to fully develop their bone. These young soon die. With no
competition the older,stronger can grow easily. However there food is
contaminated as well by the acid in the water. Soon they have not enough
food for themselves and turn to cannibalism. With only an older population
left there is no one left to regenerate themselves. Soon the lake dies.

By the late 1970s many Norwegian scientists began to suspect that it
was not only the acid in the water that was causing the deaths. They had
proved that most fish could survive in a stream that had up to a 1 unit
difference in PH. After many experiments and research they found that their
missing link was aluminum.

Aluminum is one of the most common metals on earth. It is stored in a
combined form with other elements in the earth. When it is combined it
cannot dissolve into the water and harm the fish and plants. However the
acid from acid rain can easily dissolve the bond between these elements.
The Aluminum is then dissolved into a more soluble state by the acid. Other
metals such as Copper (Cu), iron (Fe) etc can cause such effects upon the
fish as well however it is the aluminum that is the most common. For
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