The term acid rain does not convey the true nature of the problem. Scientists therefore use “acid dispositions”. Acid which has formed due to pollution may return to the earth as a solid or a gas and not just as rain. Depending upon the climatic conditions it could also come down as rain, fog or snow, and in the wet form it is known as “acid precipitation”.
Certain industries, as well as emissions from vehicles give rise to increase of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the air. These emissions change into sulphates and nitrates under the influence of sunlight and moisture, and get converted into sulphuric acid and nitric acid, which come down as acid rain.
Coal generally contains 2-3% sulphur and when it is burned, this sulphur is released into the atmosphere. Electric companies and other industries which burn coal cause a lot of emission of sulphur dioxide.
The major source of emission of nitrogen oxides into the air, is from vehicles and other places where fossil fuels are burned.
Over 90% of sulphur dioxide emissions and around 95% of nitrogen oxides released into the air are man-made.
Depending upon wind and climatic conditions acid rain affects a large area. For example emissions from the United States affect Canada. Pollution in England is felt in Norway.
Effects of acid rain on plant life. Roots are damaged. Nutrients in the soil are destroyed. Useful microorganisms are killed off. Waxy layer on leaves are damaged and plants become vulnerable to diseases. Plant germination and reproduction, inhibited.
Effects on aquatic life. The action of acid rain causes harmful elements like mercury and aluminum to be leached from the soil and rocks and it is then carried into the lakes where aquatic life may be affected. As acidity increases, plankton, certain insects and crustaceans begin to die. As it becomes more acidic (pH of 5.0) fish begin to die.
Effects on animals and birds. All living organism depends on one another. As plants and fish die, animals and birds will soon die.
Effect on human being: death to the weak.