Essay, Research Paper: Acid Rain

Environment

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The damaging effects of acid rain on society is becoming overwhelmed with great
amounts of pollution from cars, factories and an large amounts of garbage. The
immense amounts of sulphur dioxide put into the air causes high levels of acid
in the atmosphere. When this sulphuric acid is absorbed into moisture in the
air, then rain can be harmful to the environment. Acid rain is destroying lots
of things in our environment. It is hurting lakes, air and thew rest of our
ecosystem. Acid rain is killing lakes and decreasing the number of animals in
these lakes. Acid rain greatly lowers the amounts of pH in the 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 living in these lakes. Also the high amounts of acid in the water can lead
to fish being deformed. They have messed up and out of shape backbones,
flattened heads and strangely curved tails. When there gets to be a lot of acid
in the water, then there is barely anything left besides rock bass, pumpkinseed
and lake herring. 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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