First off, what is acid rain? We hear about it all the time in newspapers and how important it is to the environment. However, are we really listening to what is being said? Acid Rain is a term for rain, snow, sleet, or other wet precipitation that is polluted by such chemicals as sulfuric dioxide (SO2) and nitric oxides (NOx). Acid Rain occurs when these gases react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and other chemicals to form various acidic compounds. These compounds fall to the earth's surface in two parts: wet and dry depositions. Wet deposition is the rain, fog, snow, and other forms of precipitation. As this moisture flows over and through the ground, it affects plants and animals. The effects of wet deposition depends on factors such as how acidic the water is, the buffering capacity of the soil involved, and the types of plants and animals that rely on the water for survival. Dry deposition is the acidic gases and particles in the atmosphere. About half of the acidity in the atmosphere falls back to earth through dry deposition. Winds blow these particles and gases onto cars, homes, trees and plants, and the ground all around us. These particles and gases are washed from surfaces by rainstorms into rivers and streams. When this happens, the acidity of the river doubles do to the additional dry deposition being dumped into it. Acidity in rain is measured using a pH scale, with the number 7 being neutral. A body of water with a pH of less than 7 is considered acidic. Therefore, a body of water with a value high than 7 is basic. The pH of 5.6 has been used as the baseline in identifying acid rain, although there is controversy over this number. .
The next question one should ask is what does all this mean? Well, it means if something is not done about acid rain in the near future we all may be in trouble. To start with, the affects of acid rain are being seen in lakes and streams.