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INTRODUCTION TO ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING

TECHNOLOGY
CLB 30103

LO1-P2

TITLE: ACID RAIN

MEMBERS:
AVYANNE CHANDY ANAK IYAN (55213217117)
EMILY MANDAH ANAK KASSY (55213217072)
MUHAMAD IRYAD BIN SARIZAN (55213217160)
MUHAMMAD NASRULLAH BIN MAT ROZI (55213217126)
INTRODUCTION

In a world experiencing increasing population, urbanization, and developing nations


looking to compete on a global market with post-industrial nations, the effects of acid deposition
require greater consideration. As the worlds energy demand rises, and with the cheapest and
most abundant source of energy being coal, the occurrence of acid deposition is on the rise
(EPA, 2017).
Acid rain is a precipitation in form of rain, snow, hail, dew, or fog. Acid rain or acid
deposition is a term which includes any form of precipitation with acidic components such as
sulphuric acid or nitric acid that fall to the ground from the atmosphere in either wet or dry forms.
Sulphuric acid and nitric acid are form from the chemical such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen
oxides react with water oxygen, carbon dioxide and sunlight in the atmosphere. The acids reach
the ground and it changes the chemistry within the environment (USEPA, 2017).

The acidity is determined by pH level of the water droplets. Normal rain water are slightly
acidic with pH range from 5.3-6.0 which is weak acid and this is because the reaction between
carbon dioxide and water present in the air form carbonic acid. When the rain water pH level
falls below this range, it becomes acid rain (EPA, 2017).

Figure 1: pH scale of acid rain (EPA, 2017)


There are two forms of acid deposition. The first form is wet deposition. Wet deposition
is what most commonly thinks of acid rain. When the wind blows the acidic chemicals in the air
to the areas where the weather is wet, the acids fall to the ground in the form of rain, sleet, fog,
snow or mist. It removes acid from the atmosphere and deposits them on the earths surface.
When this acid flows through the ground, it affects large number of plants, animals and aquatic
life. The water from drain flows into rivers and canals which is them mixed up with sea water,
thereby affecting marine habitats (E.E, 2016). Second form is dry deposition. Acidic particles
and gases may also deposits from the atmosphere in the absence of moisture as dry deposition.
About half of the acidity in the atmosphere falls back to earth through dry deposition. The wind
blows these acidic particles and gases onto buildings, cars, homes, and trees. Dry deposited
gases and particles can also be washed from trees and other surfaces by rainstorms. When that
happens, the runoff water adds those acids to the acid rain, making the combination more acidic
than the falling rain alone (E.E, 2017).

Figure 2: Dry deposition and wet deposition (Images, P. B, 2009)


FORMATION OF ACID RAIN

Acid rain is linked to both natural and man-made sources. Nitrogen oxides formed
through extreme heating of air when thunderstorms produce lightning. Other than that, sulfurous
gases are discharged from erupted volcanoes and also it will discharge from rotting vegetables
(USEPA, 2017). Those activities can cause acid rain but most acid rain falls because of human
activities such as burning of fossil fuels by coal-burning power plants, factories and also
automobiles. Electric power generation accounted for 69 percent of total sulfur dioxide
emissions in the U.S. in 2007 and 20 percent of nitrogen oxides, according to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) (USEPA, 2017).

Figure 3: Formation of acid rains (USEPA, 2017)


Humans have been producing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides heavily since the
Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and 19th centuries. In Europe, Sulfur emissions had
increased so much by the middle of the 19th century that they were causing effects far away
from their sources (Echolls, 2017).
Chemical gas emissions such as sulfur and nitrogen are the primary contributor of acid
rain. Chief emitters of sulfur and nitrogen gases are factories, power generation facilities and
automobiles (S. D., 2013). The biggest contributor is the usage of coal for electrical power
generation. Automobiles and factories also release high scores of gaseous emissions on a daily
basis into the air, especially in highly industrialized areas and urban regions with large numbers
of car traffic. As a result, these areas experience exceedingly high amounts of acid rain
(Echolls, 2017).
Combusting coal and oil emit loads of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2)
into atmosphere. Once in the atmosphere, the compound will react with atmospheric water
molecules in the presence of sunlight to form mild sulphuric and nitric acid. Coal and oil produce
power for machinery and are also used for heating and cooking when burned. Combustion of
this substances released core gases responsible for acid rain formation (S. D., 2013).

Contemporary power plants use fuel to generate energy. In the process of energy
generation and combustion, SO2 and NOx are released to the atmosphere. Other than that,
manufacturing company which manufacture cement, refine petroleum or those produce metals
such as steel are also release SO2 and NOx (S. D., 2013).

Natural causes of acid rain such as volcanic eruptions, decaying vegetation, wildfires,
and biological processes and lightning are relatively small compared to anthropogenic
sources. Volcanic eruption is the main natural causal agent for acid rain. Decaying
vegetation, wildfires, and biological processes within the environment also generate the acid
rain forming gases. Dimethyl sulfide is a typical example of a major biological contributor to
sulfur-containing elements into the atmosphere (S. D., 2013).
EFFECTS OF ACID RAIN

1) Effect on Aquatic Environment


Acid rain either falls directly on aquatic bodies or gets run off the forests, roads and
fields to flow into lakes, rivers or streams. In a long time, acids get accumulated in the
water hence lower the overall pH of the water body. Acid rain tendency of altering pH
greatly affects pH concentration levels in surface water, thereby affecting fish as well as
other aquatic life-forms. When lakes and streams become more acidic than normal, the
lakes or the streams cannot continue to support the same types of fish and aquatic life
as in the past. Generally, at pH levels below 5, most fish eggs cannot hatch and may
also kill adult fish. Fish communities dwindle due to high mortality, reducing growth rate,
skeletal deformities and failed of reproduction. Acid rain runoff from catchment areas into
rivers and lakes also reduced the biodiversity. This is because the rivers and lakes
become more acidic. Aquatic species including fish and plant in some lakes, rivers and
brooks have been reduced and some even completely eliminated owing to excess acid
rain that flowing into the waters.

Figure 1: Fish die due to acidic rivers


2) Effect on soil
Acid rain is highly impacts on soil chemistry and biology which means the soil microbes
and biological activity as well as soil chemical compositions. For example, the soil pH
are damaged due to the effects of acid rain. When acid rains seep into the soil this leads
to high soil pH which may damages or reverses soil biological and chemical activities.
This will cause sensitive soil microorganism that cannot adapt to changes in pH are
killed. High soil acidity also denatures enzymes for the soil microbes. At the same time
also hydrogen ions of acid rain leach away vital minerals and nutrient magnesium and
calcium.

3) Effect on plants and crops


Acid rain potentially reduces agricultural production by changing chemical properties of
soil slowing the rate of microbiological processes hence reducing soil nutrient. The
damaging effects of acid rain on soil and high levels of dry depositions have endlessly
damaged high altitude of plants and crops since they are mostly encircled by acidic fogs
and clouds. Acidic fog can be more hazardous to health than acid rain as small droplets
can be inhaled. The widespread effects of acid rain on ecological harmony also lead to
stunted growth and even death of some plants and crops.

Figure 2: Died and dried crop due to acid rain


4) Effect on man-made materials
Although sunlight, heat, cold and wind contribute to the deterioration of man-made
structures and objects, acid deposition speeds up this process. Acid rain on the
buildings, especially those buildings that constructed with limestone will react with the
minerals and corrode them away. This is due to the reactivity of the acids in the rain and
the calcium compounds in the structures. This condition will leave the building weak and
susceptible to decay. Besides, metal structures and vehicles become corroded, and
limestone buildings, tombstones, statues, and monuments deteriorate faster when there
is acidic rain. Irreplaceable damage can be caused to the old heritage buildings.

Figure 3: Statues that corroded.

5) Effect on public health


When in atmosphere, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide gases and their particulate
matter derivatives like sulphates and nitrates, degrades visibility and can cause
accidents, leading to injuries and deaths. Human health is not directly affected by acid
rain because acid rain water is too dilute to cause serious health problems. However, the
dry depositions also known as gaseous particulates in the air which in this case are
nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide can cause serious health problems when inhaled.
Intensified levels of acid depositions in dry form in the air can cause lung and heart
problems such as bronchitis and asthma.
MAJOR WORLD LOCATION WHERE ACID RAIN HAPPENED

Covering areas of the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland, the Black Triangle is an
area that received heavy acid rain throughout the 1970s and 80s. In parts of the Black Triangle,
entire forests were dead or dying and even railroad tracks were being corroded by the acidic
precipitation. The emissions of coal-burning factories in Eastern Europe came under strict
regulation by the Geneva Convention of 1979 to prevent further acid rain pollution -- a measure
that has been successful in significantly reducing acid deposition in the region (Echolls, 2017).

Parts of the Eastern United States were also once plagued by some of the highest levels
of acid rain in the world, due to emissions from Midwestern coal-burning power plants. In parts
of New Jersey, for example, over 90 percent of freshwater streams are still acidic today due to
acid rain, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While the effects of acid rain
are still felt in the region, acid rain itself has significantly decreased as a result of the Clean Air
Act of 1970 and its subsequent amendments (Echolls, 2017).

Since the year 2000, levels of nitric and sulfuric acid in precipitation have been steadily
increasing in Asian cities such as Beijing and New Delhi as domestic demand for electricity and
manufactured goods increases. Without pollution regulations on the rapid industrial growth in
the developing nations of China and India, acid rain could continue to grow in potency and
reach until a similar crisis level as seen in Europe and the United States in the 1980s, according
to a report by Science News (Echolls, 2017)
REMEDIES OF ACID RAIN

Acid rain is a growing problem, and if we do not employ and enforce corrective solutions
immediately, the damage could be irreversible. The formation of acid rain can be in two ways
which is wet deposition and dry deposition. Between the wet deposition and dry deposition, the
wet deposition is more dangerous than dry deposition. The effect of acid rain was Lake
Acidification, statue deterioration, damage to trees and mores. Each problem has the solutions.
However, what matters more is to consciously enforce these solutions on a wide scale. The
most important thing is to educate people all over the world, and create awareness, about the
causes and effects of acid rain. Without cooperation with all around the community this problem
will unable to solve. There are a few solutions, which can greatly reduce the threat of acid rain, if
strictly followed by a large number of people.

1. EPAs Acid Rain Program

Power plants is one of causes which leading to acid rain. The power plants produce large
amounts of nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide. This large amount of nitrogen oxide and
sulphur dioxide causes the acid rain. Congress passed a law called the Clean Air Act
Amendments of 1990, and this law said that EPA should start the Acid Rain Program (Marion,
2011). The purpose of this program was to limits, or puts a cap on, the amount of sulphur
dioxide that power plants can release into the air. These programs allow the power plant to
cover their sulphur dioxide emissions. If the sulphur dioxide was reduces, the amount of
nitrogen oxides also can be reduce.

2. Liming Process Could Restore Damaged Environments.

People can do repair the damage that caused by acid rain to lakes, rivers and stream. A
process called liming that use of limestone or lime can balance the acidity in acidic surface
waters. In Sweden, they are used this process in extensively to keep the water pH at optimum
level (Seckbach, 2006). Even though, liming is an expensive method and has to be done
repeatedly. Unfortunately, it only offers a short-term solution and also risks to human health.
Nevertheless, it helps to restore and allow the survival of aquatic life forms by improving
chronically acidified surface waters.
3. Scrubbing and Emission Reduction Strategies Reducing Pollution

Scientists have found different ways to reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide released from
coal-burning power plants. One way to reduce sulphur dioxide in power plant was by washing
coal, that can low the amount of sulphur emit, and the devices known as scrubbers.
Scrubbing also called flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) typically work to chemically eliminate
sulphur dioxide from the gases leaving smokestacks (Dry Scrubbing Technologies for Flue Gas
Desulfurization, 1998). It can eliminate up to 95% of sulphur dioxide gases. Another method that
scientist was a methods that shifting the usage of fuel with replacing burning coal to natural gas.
This method is called emission reduction strategies (Piet Lens, 2006).

4. Other Sources of Energy

A great way to reduce acid rain is to produce energy without using fossil fuels. Renewable
energy sources are a good way to prevent the acid rain (Laughton, 2011). Renewable energy
also can generate electrical power even better than burning coal because the source never
depleted. These include wind energy, geothermal energy, solar energy, hydropower, and
nuclear power. Unfortunately, to change into the renewable energy takes a lot of economic
costs. The only solution is using sustainable energy that can protect the future.

5. Cleaner Cars

Cars and vehicles have a large contribution in polluting the environment, and causing acid rain.
Therefore, car manufactures has develop one type of technology car which called a catalytic
converter. This equipment helps cars by reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides. An electric car
also can be a good cleaner car because electric vehicles as a more environmentally friendly
option (Serra, 2013). In best option, using public transport, resorting to carpool, walking down to
nearby places instead of driving can help us save fuel and gas, and reduce the adverse effects.
REFERENCES

EPA (2017, March 01). What is Acid Rain? Retrieved September 23, 2017, from
https://www.epa.gov/acidrain/what-acid-rain

Images, P. B. (2009, October 09). Acid Rain. Retrieved September 23, 2017, from
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/acid-rain/

USEPA (2017). Acid rain. Retrieved September 23, 2017, from


http://nadp.sws.uiuc.edu/educ/acidrain.aspx

E. E. (2016, April 17). Primary Causes of Acid Rain. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from
https://www.eartheclipse.com/environment/primary-causes-of-acid-rain.html

S. D. (2013). Acid Rain-The Major Cause of Pollution: Its Causes, Effects and
Solution. International Journal of Scientific Engineering and Technology, 2(8), 772-775.
Retrieved September 27, 2017.

Echolls, T. (25 April, 2017). What Place in the World Receives the Most Acid Rain? Retrieved
28 September, 2017, from SCIENCING: https://sciencing.com/place-world-receives-
acid-rain-23289.html

Kukreja, R. (August, 2009). Causes, Effects and Solution of Acid Rain. Retrieved 28 September,
2017, from Conserve Energy Future: https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-
and-effects-of-acid-rain.php

American Chemical Society. 1982. Acid Rain. American Chemical Society. Washington, D.C.
Dry Scrubbing Technologies for Flue Gas Desulfurization. (1998). Boston, MA: Springer US.

Laughton, M. A. (2011). Renewable Energy Sources: Watt Committee: report number 22.
Abingdon: Elsevier Applied Science.

Marion, N. E. (2011). Making environmental law: the politics of protecting the Earth. Santa
Barbara, CA: Praeger.

Piet Lens, C. K. (2006). Waste Gas Treatment for Resource Recovery. London: IWA Publishing.

Seckbach, J. (2006). Life as We Know It. New York: Springer.


Serra, J. V. (2013). Electric Vehicles: Technology, Policy and Commercial Developmen.
Routledge.