Q:

How does acid rain occur?

A:

Quick Answer

Acid rain occurs when compounds such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released into the air, causing a chemical reaction. These compounds mix and react with water, oxygen and other chemicals to form acidic pollutants. The compounds mix easily with water, and the wind can carry them great distances.

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Full Answer

Traveling sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides become part of rain, snow, sleet or fog. Although rain is always slightly acidic because it mixes with naturally-occurring oxides in the air, acid rain can have a pH value of four, and some acid rain has been recorded with a pH of two. Acid rain contributes to the damage of high-elevation trees, such as red spruce, and it causes acidification of lakes and streams. Acid rain contributes to degradation of buildings, and it poses harm to public health when the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter fall to the earth.

Acid rain is a result of air pollution, such as the smoke produced by fires or the fumes that emanate from car exhaust. Power stations and factories that burn fuel produce polluting gases that contribute to the formation of acid rain. Approximately two-thirds of sulfur dioxide and one-quarter of nitrogen oxides in the United States come from electric power generation where fossil fuels, such as coal, are burned.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are the chemical reaction equations for acid rain?

    A:

    Acid rain is formed when nitrogen oxides or sulfur oxides in the atmosphere react with suspended water droplets and produce acids. The chemical reaction equation for the production of acid rain resulting from sulfur oxides is: SO2 + HOH -> H2SO3. The reaction equation for acid rain produced from nitrogen oxides is: 2NO2 + HOH -> HNO2 + HNO3.

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  • Q:

    What is a chemical property of sulfur?

    A:

    A chemical property of sulfur is that it does not react with water, and it burns in the air to produce sulfur dioxide. It also reacts with halogens and hot potassium hydroxide, which is a base. Chemical properties of elements include pH level, reactivity with water and heat combustion, while physical properties of elements are their boiling and melting points, appearance, color and density.

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  • Q:

    What can be done to prevent acid rain?

    A:

    Acid rain can be prevented by saving energy, using less transportation, and switching to alternative energy sources. Reducing fossil fuel consumption stops acid rain before it begins.

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  • Q:

    How do you make acid rain?

    A:

    Acid rain can be simulated with as little as some distilled water, matches with high sulfur content and a glass jar that can be sealed shut with a lid. If the simulated acid rain is for a science project, adding bromothymol blue solution allows you to demonstrate that the water has become acidic.

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