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Breakdown: What is acid rain & why is it harmful?

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 12:57 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Acid rain, or acid deposition, is a broad term that includes any form of precipitation with acidic components, such as sulfuric or nitric acid that fall to the ground from the atmosphere in wet or dry forms. This can include rain, snow, fog, hail or even dust that is acidic.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency:

The pH scale measures how acidic an object is. Objects that are not very acidic are called...
The pH scale measures how acidic an object is. Objects that are not very acidic are called basic. The scale has values ranging from zero (the most acidic) to 14 (the most basic). As you can see from the pH scale above, pure water has a pH value of 7. This value is considered neutral—neither acidic or basic. Normal, clean rain has a pH value of between 5.0 and 5.5, which is slightly acidic. However, when rain combines with sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides—produced from power plants and automobiles—the rain becomes much more acidic. Typical acid rain has a pH value of 4.0. A decrease in pH values from 5.0 to 4.0 means that the acidity is 10 times greater.(EPA)
Acid rain forms when water reacts with sulfur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide.
Acid rain forms when water reacts with sulfur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide.(https://socratic.org)
Dead or dying trees are a common sight in areas effected by acid rain like these woods in the...
Dead or dying trees are a common sight in areas effected by acid rain like these woods in the Jezera Mountains in the Czech Republic. Acid rain leaches aluminum from the soil. That aluminum may be harmful to plants as well as animals. Acid rain also removes minerals and nutrients from the soil that trees need to grow. At high elevations, acidic fog and clouds might strip nutrients from trees’ foliage, leaving them with brown or dead leaves and needles. The trees are then less able to absorb sunlight, which makes them weak and less able to withstand freezing temperatures (USEPA).(https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/forest-affected-acid-rain)

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