The term acid rain refers to the process of deposition or precipitation of hydrogen ions with a pH value below 5.0, in the atmosphere. These acidic substances are produced by the pollutants on the earth that are airborne. These acidic precipitates will pour down as water droplets along with normal rain water whose pH lie between 5.0 and 5.6 creating hazardous effects on the living organisms of earth.
ACID RAIN FORMATION
Air is polluted by both natural and artificial sources. The major contributors of acid rain are the oxides of sulphur and oxides of nitrogen. These oxides released through pollutants settle in the atmosphere. They then combine with the moisture in the atmosphere to form acid rain. The acid rain thus collected in the cloud gets released along with the raindrops of normal water thereby forming acid rain [J.N.B Bell, 1981] .The rain water that pours down will obviously contain the most harmful sulphuric acid and nitric acid. The effects created by this acid rain unimaginable. They just burn the living being alive in seconds creating a permanent destruction to the earth.
As seen earlier, the major contributors of acid rain are oxides of nitrogen and sulphur. The sources of nitrogen oxide emission are from combustion of fuels by vehicles and the burning of fossil fuels. Coal on burning will release oxides of sulphur to the atmosphere since it contains 2-3% of sulphur in it. Electrical companies which burn coal for the industrial purpose contribute highly to the emission of sulphur oxide. The companies which process ores containing sulphur to obtain various metals like nickel, copper, zinc etc. also contribute highly to the emission of sulphur oxide [Lane C, 2003].
COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY ACID RAIN
Acid rain is an environmental problem that is transboundary in nature. It means that pollutants emitted by one country can very well affect and create acid rain in another country [Trotman, 1983].Some of the countries that are most frequently affected by acid rain are the United States, Germany, Italy, Britain, Greece, Netherlands, Scotland, Scandinavia and Canada.
There are two methods that can be followed in order to protect the earth from acid rain. One method is preventing acid rain and the other one is cleaning up of acid that has already precipitated in the atmosphere.
“If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world”, is an old saying. We should not make this quote hold true with respect to our actions towards preventing acid rain. As an individual it is our prime responsibility to preserve the Mother Nature and prevent it from harmful elements. Though it may seem less serious and important we should take care that we do not become the root cause for the day on which the whole world will get drenched in acid rain.
Nature is precious. Every individual must realize this fact and start their action to create a green and clean environment in future, as always prevention is better than cure!
- J.N.B Bell, An update on acid rain: A UK Viewpoint, 1981
- Lane C A, Acid Rain –Overview and Abstracts, 2003
- Trotman G, Acid rain – A review of the phenomenon in the EEC & Europe, 1983