Air polution Essay

This essay has a total of 1499 words and 6 pages.

air polution

Acid rain is a problem that has plagued earth for years. It is poisoning our waters,
animals, plants, soil, and more. It is a problem that can not be ignored or it might have
catastrophic results on our environment. Acid rain is caused by air pollution, which is
due to man-made actions.
Scientists have discovered that air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is the
major cause of acid rain. Power plants and factories burn coal and oil, which is used to
produce the electricity we need to heat and light our homes and to run our electric
appliances. We also burn natural gas, coal, and oil to heat our homes, and our cars,
trucks, boats, and airplanes use gasoline to run, which is another fossil fuel.
The smoke and fumes from burning fossil fuels rise into the atmosphere and combine
with the moisture in the air to form acid rain. The main chemicals in air pollution that
create acid rain are sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Acid rain usually forms high in the
clouds where sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides react with water, oxygen, and oxidants.
This forms a mild solution of sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Sunlight then increases the rate
of these reactions. Rainwater, snow, fog, and other forms of precipitation containing
those mild solutions of sulfuric and nitric acids fall to the earth as acid rain.
Acid rain is a much more complex problem then most people realize. Acid rain
does not only drop dangerously high levels of acid into the ground directly affecting
wildlife but it also mixes with other elements and compounds in the earth which then
become harmful to the environment. For example 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 soil 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 and iron are similarly affected however it is the aluminum that is the most
common. In this form it is easily absorbed into the water. When it comes in contact with
fish it causes irritation to the gills. This irritation in turn causes fish to create a film of
mucus in the gills to stop this irritation until the irritant is gone. However the aluminum
does not go always and the fish continues to build up more and more mucus to counteract
it. Eventually there is so much mucus that it clogs the gills. When this occurs, the fish can
no longer breath. It dies and then sinks to the bottom of the lake. Scientist predict that
acid rain is one of the leading causes the possible extinction of fish. This does not only
affect the fish in the water, it affects everything including humans. These lakes and
streams are not just homes for aqualife but they are our sources of water too.
Another very large problem is the effect of acid rain on trees. When a tree’s roots
absorb water from the ground it is taking in its source of life, and when acid rain rains
around that tree, its life source is poisoned. Tree’s leaves and needles begin to drop off,
and seedlings fail to produce new trees. The acid also reacts with many nutrients the trees
need, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. This starves the trees, and they
become much more susceptible to other forms of damage, such as being blown down, or
breaking under the weight of snow. Also forests in high mountain regions receive
additional acid from the acidic clouds and fog that often surround them. These clouds and
fog are often more acidic than rainfall. When leaves are frequently bathed in this acid fog,
their protective waxy coating can wear away. The loss of the coating damages the leaves
and creates brown spots. When the leaves are damaged, they cannot produce enough food
energy for the tree to remain healthy.
Acid rain does not only poison our drinking water, but it is very corrosive. Acid
rain is known to contribute to the corrosion of metals and deterioration of stone and paint
in buildings, statues, and other structures of cultural significance. Human-made materials
gradually deteriorate even when exposed unpolluted rain, but acid rain accelerates the
process. For example, the Capitol building in Ottawa has been disintegrating because of
excess sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere. Limestone and marble turn to a crumbling
substance called gypsum upon contact with the acid, which explains the corrosion of
buildings and statues. In addition, bridges are corroding at a faster rate, and the railway
industries as well as the airplane industry have had to put more money in repairing the
corrosive damage done by acid rain. Not only is this an economically taxing problem
caused by acid rain, but also a safety hazard to the general public. In 1967 the bridge over
the Ohio River collapsed killing 46 people, the reason was corrosion due to acid rain.
Dry deposition of acidic compounds can also dirty buildings and other structures, leading
to increased maintenance costs.
Also, there is growing concern about the potential health risks associated with acid rain.
Recent reports suggest, for example, that downwind derivatives of sulfur dioxide, known
as acid aerosols, may pose serious health threats throughout the eastern United States.
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