Acid rain is the by-product of a chemical reaction that starts when nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide gases are released into the atmosphere, where they react with oxygen, water and other chemicals to form acidic pollutants. The reactions may take hours or days, during which the polluted air can move several miles; therefore, acid rain can fall far from the source of pollution.
Acid rain is sometimes referred to as acid deposition, a term that also encompasses other forms of acidic precipitation such as snow. It can occur as a result of both human and natural activities. Most of gases that lead to acid rain are typically by-products of burning fossil fuels and electric power generation. Erupting volcanoes also release chemicals that lead to acid deposition.
Acid rain leads to the acidification of streams and lakes, which directly endangers aquatic life. It also leads to the destruction of trees and sensitive forest soils. Acid deposition has negative impacts on architecture because it fastens the decay of paints and building materials. When the acid rain falls on a building, it begins to slowly react with the minerals in the stones, causing them to gradually disintegrate and eventually wash away. There are multiple ways to curb acid deposition, ranging from individual action to societal changes.