Quezada 1Kimalee QuezadaG. FaerberCHEM 10006/25/15Acid RainAcid rain is a major environmental issue affecting large parts of the United States, majority of Europe and Canada. This form of rainfall is unusually acidic which means that it has high amount of hydrogen ions. It causes damage to streams, lakes, forests, plants, and animals in the affected ecosystems. Acid rain is as a result of emission of two gases namely nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide which mix with water present in the atmosphere to produce acids.Causes and Formation of Acid RainAt equilibrium, rain has a pH of about 5.6. Acid rain is rain whose pH is below this value.The acidity of rainwater comes from the natural presence of carbon IV oxide, nitrogen oxide, andsulfur IV oxide substances found in the troposphere layer of the atmosphere. Carbon IV oxide has the greatest presence hence contributes the most of the natural acidity of the rainwater. Carbon IV oxide reacts with water to form carbonic acid which then gives hydrogen and hydrogen carbonate ions after dissociation. The ability of carbonic acid to give hydrogen ions is what leads to the lowering of the pH hence acidic classification (Faridi, 2008)However, industrial activities produce acid-forming compounds in greater quantities than the natural sources. In some areas of the United States, rain water can have a pH of as low as 3.0 (Hutchinson, Thomas and Magda, 2012). Approximately, a quarter of acidity in rain water is accounted to nitric acid.
Quezada 2High temperature combustion in car engines and power plants are the leading producers of nitrogen oxide gas which later forms nitric acid. Of the remaining three-quarter acidity of the rain, the majority is caused by sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is almost entirely produced by human activity, notably by combustion of sulfur containing fossil fuels burnt in power plants. In the United States alone, fossil fuels combustion accounts for approximately eighty percent of the total atmospheric sulfuric dioxide (Faridi, 2008). Today, acid rainfall is present in the north