Chemistry of Acid Rain

Pollution has become one of the major concern world wide. Acid rain is one such form of pollution which is a serious environmental problem affecting many regions. Majority of the acid rain affects several regions in the U.S. and Canada. It can be defined as the precipitation which has high amounts of acids. These noxious gases have a negative impact on the ecological balance. Read on to learn about the

chemistry of acid rain


Most of the times, acid rain occurs due to lightning strikes and volcanoes. But one of the main reason for acid rains is high levels of noxious gases released by automobiles and factories. Acid rain can be related to acid deposition. This deposition includes dry as well as wet deposition. Adverse effects of acid rain can be seen on the human health, soils, forests and fauna and flora. This is also responsible for resulting in extinction of many species.

Acid Rain Chemistry

The main acids present in acid rain are nitric acid and sulfuric acid. The formation of sulfuric acid includes:

  • Sulfur emitted into air mixes with atmospheric oxygen to form sulfur dioxide
  • Sulfur dioxide reacts with water present in the atmosphere to form sulfurous acid
  • Another acid present in acid rain is sulfurous acid
  • Sulfur dioxide eventually oxidizes to form sulfur trioxide
  • This sulfur trioxide forms sulfuric acid after reacting with water

The formation of nitrogen dioxide includes:

  • Nitrogen reacts with atmospheric oxygen to form nitrogen dioxide
  • This nitrogen dioxide then reacts with water to form nitric acid and nitrous acid

The acid rain contains very low amount of nitrous acid and sulfurous acid and they are less stable. There is a need to cut down on vehicular transportation and other detrimental human activities to lower the adverse effects of the acid rain. They can create a havoc on the ecosystem resulting in an imbalance.

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