Essay, Research Paper: Acid Rain

Environment

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Modern society is becoming overwhelmed with great amounts of pollution from
cars, factories and an overabundance of garbage. The immense amounts of sulphur
dioxide emitted into the air causes high levels of acid in the atmosphere. When
this sulphuric acid is absorbed into moisture in the air, poignant rainfalls can
be damaging to the external environment. Acid rain is destroying the world=s
lakes, air and ecosystem. Acid rain is killing lakes and decreasing the number
of inhabitants in these fresh water bodies. Acid rain causes an ample deduction
in the pH levels in the water. At a neutral level the pH in water should be
close to seven, yet in these acidic water bodies the pH levels can be as low as
four. These pH levels of four contain more than ten percent acids than that of
normal rain and one thousand times more acid than neutral water. Each decade the
pH levels of lakes around Ontario have become ten times more acidic. The high
acid levels contained in lakes also causes a decrease in the number of fish
dwelling in these lakes. Also Aacid produces chemical changes in the blood of
the fish, and their basic body metabolism is altered@ (Howard & Perley,
1980, p. 24), and can cause deformities in these inhabitants. They have twisted
and arched backbones, flattened heads and strangely curved tails. In pH levels
of four there is little left in the lakes besides rock bass, pumpkinseed and
lake herring. Affected fish are also in danger of becoming sterile, which would
put the species at risk of becoming extinct. As with sulphur dioxide in rain,
mercury is also discharged into the water. There is a direct connection between
the mercury rich lakes as there is with those with high acidic levels. This
metal becomes concentrated in the blood and tissues of fish. Acid rain causes
traumatic effects in natural lakes and rivers. Acid rain causes air quality to
deteriorate. As in water, acid rain causes the pH levels in the air to decrease.
The sulphur dioxide, which diffuses into the air, mixes with moisture causing
the pH levels to drop from the normal level. Again, the normal level is
somewhere around seven, yet in some acidic air masses the levels can be as low
as three. These lowered pH levels form a photochemical smog in the atmosphere.
In the air Anitrogen oxides react with ozone and some hydrocarbons in the
presence of sunlight to form photochemical smog, the kind of yellow-grey haze
which it literally alive and growing in stagnant air masses@ (Howard &
Perley, 1980, p. 44). This smog carries serious risk for respiratory disease and
crop damage. The photochemical smog is also causing the ozone layer to
disintegrate. The ozone layer is becoming a part of this smog, which is causing
holes in it. An inordinate amount of sulphur dioxide is let into the air, more
than can be neutralized by nutrients in the air. Decrease in pH levels,
photochemical smog and depletion of the ozone layer are some effects of acid
rain in the air. The ecosystem is slowly eroding due to the increased amounts of
acid in the soil. Acid in the soil in causing the carbon dioxide respiration
process to decelerate. In order for plants to go through photosynthesis, they
need carbon dioxide. When acid in the soil causing this soil respiration to slow
down, in turn it causes the photosynthesis process to slow down. The soil also
erodes when the pH levels drop. The acidic levels of the soil cause nutrients in
the soils such as aluminum to break apart and the soil to erode. Soil erosion
also causes a lower production of plants in the ecosystem. In the soil a process
of decay Acalled oligotrophication, means that fewer of the ions of acid are
neutralized by the depleted biological community so the acid can cause further
degeneration of natural processes, which in turn are less capable of combating
the acid, and so on, in an accelerating process@ (Howard & Perley, 1980, p.
32). Disruption in the life span of trees and plants is also another effect of
acid rain. The acid rain corrodes the thin, waxy layer, which coats and protects
the leaves letting the acid suffocate the leaves. This can cause an interference
in the plants metabolism and photosynthesis may be altered meaning the leaves
cannot produce and efficient amount of food which may result in death of the
plant. Acid may obtrude fertilization , stunt or kill the growth of seeds and
make them sterile. A second generation would be in danger of not being produced
causing deforestation. Naturally the reduction of plants is causing the
biological food chain to weaken. As smaller animals and insects feed on these
plants lose their food supply, they may also ensue death. In effect the animals
which feed off of these animals also ensue a decrease in their supply. In turn
humans may become starved if the acid rain effects increase. Acid rain causes
death of soil, plants and animals, effecting the ecosystem. Acid rain is
becoming a major problem in our environment today. It is killing our fresh water
lakes and it=s occupants. Also the quality of air is depleting, increasing the
amount of smog and pollution in our atmosphere. Once the acid is absorbed in the
soil, this puts the ecosystem in jeopardy of extinction. This is killing plants,
animal, and soil, which is the basis of our existence. If this acid rain problem
is not dealt with urgently, the natural world may in hazard of demise.

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