Acid rain


The term acid rain , or acid precipitation , as it is also known, is the term used to describe precipitation that has a pH level of less than 5.6 – a pH of 7 is neutral. Acid rain is a form of pollution of the air and today is a subject of great controversy because of the damage it causes to the environment worldwide. Over the past ten years, this has led to the destruction of thousands of lakes and streams in the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe. It also causes the deterioration of buildings and statuesby reacting with various minerals. Acid rain forms when oxides of nitrogen and sulfite combine with moisture in the atmosphere to produce nitric and sulfuric acids .


What is acid rain?

It is a condition climate which represents the pollution of the air caused by the effects of the fuel when it burns and chemicals that are released into the air constantly by the activities of man.

  • What does it consist of
  • Acid rain characteristics
  • Types
  • Composition
  • How acid rain originates
  • Causes
  • Consequences
  • Prevention
  • What is the pH of acid rain
  • What are the main emission sources
  • Conclution

What does it consist of

The rain acid is a type of precipitation that has a high concentration of acid sulfuric and nitric acid . In addition to being in the rain, we can also find it in snow, fog, hail, dew, mists and suspended particles that end up on the ground. Sometimes it is a phenomenon produced by natural causes , and in others, by the emission of chemicals during volcanic eruptions and the decomposition of plants. But the highest incidence of acid rain is caused by human action .


Acid rain characteristics

The main characteristics of acid rain are the following:

  • Acid rain has a fairly low pH level .
  • It can be wet or dry .
  • It is very characteristic of atmospheres that suffer from contamination .
  • It can be measured using the pH scale , which is generally between 5 and 6.
  • It can also be produced by cigarettes , volcanic eruptions and geysers .
  • It is usually formed in high clouds as solar radiation helps its production.


Acid rain can be of several types:

  • Anthropogenic in principle: it is caused by industrial development , by the burning of vegetation and fossils of polluting gases that cause damage to the atmosphere .
  • Of volcanic principle : it is produced by volcanic eruptions that causes the rain to have unbearable amounts of H2SO4, called sulfuric acid, and HNO3, called nitric acid.


The components that make up acid rain are the following:

  • Water from ambient humidity
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Sulfur trioxide
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Sulfurous acid
  • Nitric acid

How acid rain originates

Acid rain occurs when moisture in the air combines with nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that are produced by factories , power plants, and by vehicles that burn coal or petroleum products . By interacting with water vapor, sulfuric and nitric acid are formed , and in the end, these chemicals fall to the ground with precipitation , thus forming acid rain .


There are several causes that produce acid rain. The smoke emanating from factories and  fires ; smoke from automobiles and motorcycles , containing in its internal part greyish particles, these particles are very easy to notice and also are formed by invisible gases ; which in fact are the ones that cause the most damage to the environment .

Another cause for the production of acid rain is fuel , which after it is burned emits smoke and due to the different effects of different chemicals which are constantly released into the air, this release of smoke occurs in different activities carried out by man.

Power plants , factories , different machines and cars are the main causes of acid rain, because they are all elements that produce polluting gases ; oxide as nitrogen and dioxide of sulfur .

Acid rain can also be caused by some natural causes ; that are generated by the eruptions of volcanoes ; the earthquakes are also causes of the rain as they are natural processes that release large amounts of substances pollutants that make their way directly to the atmosphere .


There are many consequences that acid rain produces in all the parts that make up the environment and that are negative for the health of all living beings in general. One of the most important consequences is the impact on the quality of water and soils ; causing desertification , altering pH levels , polluting the soil due to acidification and affecting vegetation and ecosystems .

Acid rain prevents the plants from feeding on the minerals in the soil because these are destroyed by the rain, so the vegetation is affected. In the seas , rivers and lakes , the water is affected and acidifies, increasing the amount of heavy metals that are toxic and that go from lead, to aluminum, mercury ; manganese and also zinc. When the waters are polluted, the trophic chains and the reproduction of the fish are affected, affecting the fauna .

In the urban environment it is affected in the short and long term. There is corrosion of buildings and degradation of the stones of the structures of historical monuments; added to the conditions in the population human due to pollution of the air .


Acid rain can be prevented and solved by following the measures mentioned below:

  • Reduce levels of sulfur in fuel.
  • Have greater control of contamination levels .
  • Close companies that do not regulate their pollution levels and refineries .
  • Improve the electrical transportation system .
  • Use organic products for agriculture , instead of sulfates and artificial chemicals.
  • Use the three-way catalytic converter in vehicles, to avoid harmful emissions.
  • Use natural gas and clean and renewable energy.
  • Balance the pH of the waters.
  • Promote the use of public transport to reduce the number of vehicles.
  • Reduce pollution from home or work .

What is the pH of acid rain

Once the rain combines with sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the rain turns acidic. Acid rain generally has a pH value of 4.0.  When you lower the pH values ​​from 5.0 to 4.0 it means that the acidity is ten times higher.

What are the main emission sources

The emitting sources of acid rain are the following:

  • Combustion processes carried out by humans.
  • Reactions produced by combustion by reaction of oxygen and nitrogen in the air.
  • Emissions from large thermal power plants .
  • Industrial plants , cars , heaters , ammonia produced by manure in intensive livestock farms.


As environmentally responsible human beings, we must seek and implement different solutions and preventive measures to avoid the production of acid rain. It is for this reason that education and the use of adequate resources to protect the environment is of the utmost importance .

Leave a Comment