Acid rain due to its adverse effects and problems is an issue of major concern worldwide, however, due to low toxic emissions the problem is not that serious for Australia as it is for rest of the world.
Acid rain basically becomes acidic when rain water dissolves carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the atmosphere which results in ph of acid rain to drop below the generally accepted ph of rain that is between ph 5 – 6.
Causes of acid rain has been a widely debated issue for years, however, latest scientific findings have cleared the matter to a great extent.
The basic cause is the presence of the two elements that dissolve in the rain to make it acidic sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide that are emitted to our atmosphere from the on going industrial processes and hence those areas where industrial processes are at their peak are more effected by this rain. Power generation plants that use coal as their energy resource are the ones contributing the most in sulfur dioxide emission and adds up to 70% of that present in the world .
Also Increasing number of automobiles and the use of fossil fuels for power generation are the major sources for the emission of nitrogen into the atmosphere. Although these human causes contribute mostly to this problem, however, natural factors like fires, volcanic eruptions and bacterial decomposition also emit nitrogen dioxide into the atmosphere to a great extent.
By traveling thousands of miles in the air, these polluted particles are exposed to other harmful elements present in the atmosphere and when these mix, they may form harmful chemicals that come down to us in the form of rain, snow, hail, fog, frost or dew.
These chemicals can and have effected us in many ways.
Acid rain is a threat to a very important resource of our ecosystem, that is the trees, as it causes them to loose their leaves, turn brown, stunted growth, damaged barks and other problems like diseases and insects. This can happen either through direct exposure of trees with the rain or exposure of soil to acid rain. Acid rain also absorbs helpful chemicals like calcium and potassium before trees can. Trees get weak and less resistant to harsh weather and climatic changes.
With the ability to tamper and obliterate most durable materials, acid rain is the reason for deterioration and corrosion of old buildings, monuments and weathering of tombstones as well. For example, the Taj Mahal in India is turning its white luster into pale shade due to exposure to acid rain. Moreover automobile industry considers acid rain as a type of corrosive for automotive bodies and parts as it leaves irregular marks and disfigures plane surfaces that can only be repaired through repainting once they are effected.
Acid rain is also hazardous to human health as well as it can cause asthma, bronchitis, and many heart related disease. Acid rain also hinders both humans and plants in their respiratory process. Moreover when humans eat plants and animals, which also contain toxic elements through acid rain, the probability of having diseases like Alzheimer’s, brain damage and other kidney related problems increases.
Lastly, lakes, another important water resource for us are effected by acid rain as fish die in acidic water. Moreover birds, which feed themselves on fish, can also die if the catch fishes from these effected lakes.
Therefore by keeping in mind the risks of pollution, Australia and South Australia need to keep these toxic emissions to the lowest so as not to make acid rain an issue of concern as it is for the rest of the world.
EPA , information (2004).ACID RAIN-why it is concern.