Acid rain: What is it, explanation, causes and consequences

Acid rain is one of the results related to environmental pollution, specifically air pollution that denotes changes in the environment from cloud water, since they acquire differences due to particles emanating from different types of contaminating acids.

Acid rain: What is it, explanation, causes and consequences
What is acid rain?

This climatic condition represents one of the consequences left by air pollution, mainly due to the effects of fuel once it is burned; and also by the effects of different chemical products that are constantly released into the air in different human activities.

Likewise, the smoke emanating from the factories and the one that comes from fires; not forgetting the smoke from cars, as all of these contain grayish particles inside, which are easily noticeable where invisible gases are also included; which are the most damaging to the environment.

From power plants to factories; machinery and cars are the main responsible for generating acid rain, since they are elements that produce polluting gases; like nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, certainly.

Acid rain explained

Each one of these gases reacts when being in contact with the humidity coming from the air, transforming itself in this way into sulfuric acid; nitric acid and hydrochloric acid.

It is then when the rain that causes this type of cloud brings small acid molecules and it is what gives the meaning to the name of "acid rain" and that behind it hides all the effects of contamination.

The acidity as in any chemical substance is measured from the pH scale, in these cases it is known that the rain in normal conditions is slightly acidic; but if it is mixed with invisible gases and gray particles, the result intensifies, expanding the degree of air pollution found throughout the natural environment.

How is the acid rain process?

During air pollution, acid rain occurs while primary pollutants are transported over a long distance; for long kilometers from the wind.

Similarly, secondary polluting substances such as nitric acid vapor, as well as drops of sulfuric acid and molecules of sulfates and nitrates are being formed; since they are the compounds that fundamentally cause acid as a set in the air and end up returning to the cycle in three ways: as rain, as acid mist or also as vapor clouds, thus becoming known as wet sedimentation, from which the Acid rain as a sign of high pollution.

Causes of acid rain

Acid rain can be caused by different causes, including natural causes; generated by eruptions of volcanoes; as well as earthquakes since they are natural processes that release a good proportion of polluting substances and reach the atmosphere directly.

However, this meteorological process is also considered a consequence of man's constant activities; mainly given by the actions from the industries or factories of any chemical content or product, as well as by the disproportionate use of transport in all its styles,  since they are the main elements of daily life that use fossil fuels to function; just as gasoline is.

On the other hand, the acid rain problem broadly contextualizes the level of contamination; because it gets to identify the biggest polluting indication in urban areas and in industrial areas; since they are the regions where most of the population is established .

All factories, as well as industrial and central plants are the first causes to generate acid rain; given that they are using fossil fuels as a primary energy source and that because of their tall chimneys; 

They are emitting harmful substances reflected in specific acids that accumulate in the air and cause permanent contamination of the environment.

The pollution of the air from the acids generated because such particles are suspended and worsening by the action of the wind; taking them to all the surrounding areas that affects the health of the environment where all living things live.

Consequences of acid rain on the environment

The phenomenon of acid rain; over time it leaves consequences in all areas of the natural environment and all are negative for the health of this environment; property of all living things.

With the appearance and consolidation of this type of rain, not only is the quality of the water affected, but the quality of the soils is also affecting; causing desertification, affecting vegetation and of course ecosystems in each of their contexts.

In the first instance, the effects of acid rain are felt in the different types of soil into which it falls. 

In case the terrain is a calcareous conformation; then this type of rain will be absorbed in a very fast way by the calcium carbonate that is part of the structure of this soil.

But in case the soil is made of clay or granite; the consequences of acid rain are much more complex and serious, due to its great characteristic of dissolving acid rain; which ends up completely altering the pH level of the entire terrain and causing the entire soil to become contaminated by completely acidifying.

Consequences of acid rain on living things

Once the water seeps into the earth it has fallen; the acids destroy the minerals that they bring in their content such as magnesium, calcium and potassium, preventing plants and all vegetation; can feed on them, so it indirectly affects the vegetation.

With regard to the consequences of acid rain in the seas and fresh waters, it is completely acidified, leading to an increase in heavy metals that are toxic in all their dimensions; from lead to aluminum to mercury; manganese and also zinc.

When the water is contaminated by the increase in the proportion of these metals, the food chains and the reproduction of fish in the seas breaks completely; making the fauna have a really negative impact.

Within marine fauna, shrimp are greatly affected; snails and mussels; they are highly sensitive species to acidity, preventing roe and fry from reaching maturity and being able to procreate in the number of species; as well as it generates deformations in young fish making them non-reproducible among themselves.

Finally, the consequences of this type of rain in the urban environment should not be forgotten; since it is the most affected region and that generates more problems both in the short term; as long-term.

Its effects from the immediacy lie in the corrosion of buildings as well as; the degradation of the stones of the cathedrals and the structures of different historical monuments; without neglecting the affections generated in the human population as a result of this injury that has occurred in the ecosystem; mainly guided by air pollution.

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