Acid Precipitation


Acid precipitation, a form of pollution, greatly effects aquatic life and terrestrial plants and those who depend on each of those to live. The damaging effects higher acidity levels have on plants and aquatic life can also harm other life forms such as birds and even humans.


Acid rain first became a problem during the Industrial Revolution because of few pollution regulations among the many emerging industries and is ever growing. Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen oxide in the air, caused by certain industries, burning of fossil fuels, emissions from vehicles, forest fires, volcanic activity, organic decay, and lightning, combine with moisture in the air to form sulfuric acid and nitric acid or acid percipitaion. The pH level of natural precipitation is usually around five or six; the pH level of acid rain is around four or five and a half. The lower the number from 6 to 0 the more acidic a substance is.


Acid rain causes the growth rate of vegetation to be diminutive and can even wipe out some types of plants. Small nutrient contributors in the soil can be wiped out resulting in less nutrients being available. Plant germination and reproduction can be altered. Acid rain also damages the waxy coating on leaves causing the plant to be more vulnerable to diseases and harsh climate conditions. Almost half of Germany’s Black Forest has been damaged by acid precipitation.


Acid rain is very harmful too much of aquatic life. As the acidity rises in bodies of water organisms can begin to die or undergo changes. An increase in the acidity can prevent the reproduction of aquatic species, or result in the deaths of hatchlings. Many arthropods, some important food sources of many fish, can die out if the pH level becomes less than five, as do many insects. With a shortened food supply along with other harmful effects from acid precipitation, fish also begin to die. Amphibians are affected in many ways by acid rain. Frogs have been found with many deformities such as missing or extra limbs.


Birds or other animals that depend on aquatic life for food are affected by acid precipitation as there food supply is decreased. The destruction of trees and other forms of vegetation leads to a loss of habitat for many animals. Some contaminants in fish can harm humans who eat them. Entire fish stocks that feed many people, in certain lakes have been wiped out, due to acid rain.


Acid precipitation has many harmful effects on ecosystems. All living organisms are interdependent on each other. If a lower life form is killed other species that depended on it will also be affected. However, aquatic life and many plants seem to be heavily affected. Some causes of acid precipitation cannot be controlled, nevertheless the ninety-five percent caused by man can be helped in some way or another.