Acid rain is a form of precipitation (rain, snow, or dry dust) that is acidic in nature. It constitutes air pollutants including two major components i.e, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. These two gases react with the water droplets in the air to form sulfuric and nitric acid. When such droplets form the cloud and fall to the ground as a rain, the acid falls with it, thus, naming the precipitation an acid rain. The acid rain impacts the entire ecosystem including plants, aquatic animals, humans, and man-made infrastructure. Power stations, vehicles, and factories are prime causes of acid rain, as they produce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. In addition, two natural sources that boost these gases into the atmosphere are volcanic eruptions and lightning strikes. Being an air pollutant, these gases have the potential to reach miles away from its source and thus, endangers every country. Due to this reason, the governments across the world are working toward mitigating the impact of an acid rain by limiting and restricting the sources of gases causing acid rain.
Negative effects of acid rain
Numerous reports prove the direct and indirect impact of acid rain on the biotic and abiotic components of the ecosystem.
Prevent growth in forests
In the forests, the impact of acid rain is maximum on trees. The acid rain falling onto the forest penetrates to the soil and removes the nutrients and minerals from it. By doing so, it inhibits the growth of trees. At the same time, it adds harmful chemicals to the soil including aluminum and makes trees prone to diseases. Since the acid rain directly falls onto the leaves, it affects the photosynthesis in the plants and trees.
Endanger aquatic life
Acid rain affects the marine life to a great extent. The final destination of an acid rain is the water resources including lakes, seas, or oceans. With the acidic water falling into such resources, the pH value of the water changes. Different water resources on the earth have different pH value in addition to other important factors. Such acidification changes the composition of an indigenous water resource, causing a threat to the aquatic life and the entire marine ecosystem, where fishes feed on each other to survive. An extinction of one will lead to the disappearance of another, thus, killing the entire ecosystem.
Destroy buildings and structures
Acid rain causes a great damage to the buildings and structures constituting or made of marble, limestone, and sandstone. The most affected ones include monuments and statues. Also, the acid rain causes the corrosion of the steel structures such as bridges and railing.
The huge negative impact of acid rain on a country’s resources forces the government to spend an enormous amount in diminishing the side-effects. This leads to an unprofitable expenditure by the government, hurting numerous other sectors who need a fair share of the budget for their growth.
The impact of dry acid rain on a human health is more, as the increased air particulate matter in the atmosphere threatens heart and lungs in humans. And the wet acid rain indirectly complicates human health by acidifying drinking water resources. Several scientific studies have concluded asthma and heart diseases a prime effect of an acid rain.
An increasing number of the international conventions on pollution control shows that people and leaders are finally realizing the great threat these small particles in the air pose on the environment and human habitat. The governments across the world, must undertake certain measures such as encouraging the enhanced use of public transport to mitigate harmful gases from the private vehicles, liming the rivers and lakes by adding limestone to neutralize the water and the like. All these provisions and measures have shown positive results in many countries and are likely to prove beneficial for other countries too.