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Harmful Effects of Acid Rain



Acid rain is more acidic than normal rain and forms through a complex process of chemical reactions involving air pollution.  The two most important pollutants that contribute to the formation of acid rain are nitrogen and sulfur dioxide, which react with moisture in the atmosphere to form nitric and sulfuric acid.  The sulfur and nitrogen compounds that contribute to acid rain primarily come from man-made sources, such as industries and utilities.  Emissions also come from automobiles and other forms of transportation and industrial processes such as smelting.


Acid rain can harm forests and crops, damage bodies of water, and contribute to the damage of statues and buildings.  Researchers are considering the possible effects of acid rain on human health.  These acidic pollutants can be deposited through rain, snow, fog, dew, or sleet.  Large quantities can also be deposited in a dry form through dust.


Pollutants that contribute to acid rain may be carried hundreds of miles before being deposited on the earth.  Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to determine the specific sources of these acid rain pollutants.



Become aware of the effect of acid rain on living and nonliving materials using a classroom simulation over a period of two days.


Pre-lab Activity

Draw six beakers and label them with the following substances: lemon juice, vinegar, apple juice, tomato juice, milk, and water.







Measure the pH of each substance using pH paper and label your beakers with the pH reading you measured.  Calculate the percent error between your measured pH reading and the value your teacher gives you.












How will acid rain change selected biotic and abiotic specimens?



Determine as a class what materials are to be used for the biotic and abiotic factors. 

Determine as a group what acidic solutions will be used. 



Develop a procedure that your group will follow that will lead you to an answer for the given problem, “How will acid change selected biotic and abiotic specimens?”  Your procedure must be approved by the teacher in order for you to obtain the materials needed.



Include before and after sketches of your selected specimens.  Create a data table that describes the differences in color, size, shape, smell, and touch of the specimens.



Among the other things necessary in this section of the report, answer the following questions:

*      Which substance was most damaging?

*      Which abiotic and biotic factor was effected the most?

*      Does this activity prove or disprove the idea that acid rain may be harmful to human health?  Explain.