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What is the origin of acid rain?
Acid rain or acid deposition is defined as any form of precipitation in the atmosphere with mineral acid components. Mineral acid is a strong inorganic acid of nature. It can be categorized easily as sulphuric acid and nitric acid. This is originated from the atmospheric reaction of atmospheric gases.
If some gas species go up in the atmosphere, then its acid production also increases. How these gas species come to the atmosphere? It is due to anthropogenic activities, such as industrial, vehicle emission etc,. These gases cause pollution is called a pollutant.
These acids in the atmosphere can precipitate as rain, snow, fog, photochemical smog. Finally, it forms acidic dust in the atmosphere. It creates a lot of problems for the environment and more health hazards to the entire humanity. This information is useful for science fair projects for 8th grade.
Definition of Acid Rain:
Acid rain is originated from pollutant gas species, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX ) where x= 2 or 3. These gas species emitted from the burning of low-quality coal. Generally, coal is used in the industries for heating related purposes. Most of our industries depend on fossil fuel as their heat-generating resources. They use around 75 to 80% of fossil fuel.
Naturally in the atmosphere, all these said gases are acid in nature instead of ammonia gas. Ammonia gas is basic in nature. When it mixes with the atmosphere, it reacts with the water molecule to form the corresponding acid. Generally, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX ) convert into sulphuric acid and nitric acid respectively.
Finally, acid mixes with the cloud, water vapor of the atmosphere and dust particles. It undergoes as precipitation of rain, snow, fog, and smog, etc,. This information on acid rain is useful for science fair projects for 8th grade.
Major Sources and Causes (Effects) of Acid Rain:
While a small part of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX ) that cause acid rain precipitation are from natural sources such as volcanoes and forest fire. But, most of it comes from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, diesel, petrol, etc,. The major sources of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX ) in the atmosphere are listing as follows:
- Burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity for industrial applications. Two-thirds (2:3) of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and one-fourth (1:4) of nitrogen oxides (NOX ) in the atmosphere come from electric power generators.
- Sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollutants mainly originated from diesel and petrol.
- Nitrogen oxides (NOX ) pollutants mainly originated from coal.
- Automobile vehicles (two, four-wheelers and truck) and heavy industrial equipment.
- Metallurgical manufacturing, oil refineries, and other heavy industries.
Winds can transport sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX ) over long distances (different regions). This across borders making acid rain a problem for everyone in the world and not just those who live close to these sources. It is the global issue of the world.
Acid rain causes and effects due to air pollution as follows:
- Lake and freshwater pH tends towards acidic nature. It causes more damage to the species living there.
- Acid rain effects, It induces corrosion to the industrial machinery, bridges, railway tracks, etc.
- One ocean pH is different from other ocean. This acid rain effects the seawater bodies pH and the species.
- It affects plant life and that directly causes damage to the environment.
- It causes skin damage, eye irritation, lung damage, and multiple organ failure, etc,.
These notes of acid rain sources and causes (effects) are useful for science fair projects for 8th grade.
How to measure acid rain?
We already discuss the pH scale quiz and definition in detail in our previous pH post. If the pH of the solution is less than 7, the solution is acid in nature. If the pH of the solution is more than 7, then the solution is basic in nature. The neutral solution pH is 7. Therefore, normal water pH is 7.
we can measure the acid rain with the usage of a pH scale. The following equation is used to determine the pH of the solution.
pH= -log [H⁺]
This is called a pH scale equation. If we determine the pH of the solution with pH meter, then we can calculate the concentration of hydrogen ions [H⁺]. From [H⁺], we can calculate the number of hydrogen ions.
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Science Fair Project Idea for acid rain:
The following material is to carry out an acid rain experiment for science fair projects for 8th grade.
Material required for acid rain experiment:
- Basin 5 nos
- 25ml sample bottle 15 nos
- 50 ml Beaker 3 nos
- pH meter one
- Acidic buffer one
- Thermometer 5 nos
Rainwater collected from different localities at least from five places with the usage of the basin. For the best result, we need each 20 ml sample from a different locality. If you are collecting four samples from the city surrounding, keep one sample from the outer area of the city (from the countryside). It is only possible with the team of the student.
If it is not possible, then you collect samples from your home, school, teacher’s home, friend’s home, aunty’s home and uncle’s home, etc,.
Standard Operating Protocol measuring acid rain:
- Take five basins and keep them under the trees for easy collection or open safe place.
- After one or two days collect the sample in the bottles from the basins.
- Calibrate the pH meter with acid buffer.
- Check all the samples from different localities and note down the reading in the record notebook with date of sample collection.
- In the raining day, note down the temperature and humidity (google data) in the notebook.
- Repeat the experiment for the entire rainy season.
Observation from acid rain experiment:
We get the pH data from different localities. You need to check the pH value is static in that particular localities. From the web, you can get the pollution details in your localities. you can compare the pH value with the pollution level in your area. For the pollution level, you check the pollution level of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX ) gases. You note down these values also in the notebook.
From above said equation, you can easily calculate the concentration of hydrogen ions [H⁺] from pH. you can addon this concentration of hydrogen ions [H⁺] also along with pH.