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Acid Rain and its causes What is acid rain Acid rain is rain that is more acidic than normal Acid rain is a complicated problem It is not a recent phenomenon In the 17th century scientists noted the ill effects that industry and acidic pollution was having on vegetation and people However the term acid rain was not coined until two centuries later when Angus Smith published a book called Acid Rain in 1872 Robert Angus Smith - the scientist who first used the term acid rain - wrote It has often been observed that the stones and bricks of buildings crumble more readily in large towns where much coal is burnt I was led to attribute this effect to the slow but constant action of acid rain The atmosphere is like an enormous chemists beaker - a vessel where gases mix mingle and react often turning into poisonous substances capable of returning to earth as rain or snow Acid rain is an extremely destructive form of pollution Acid rain has been blamed for the death of several lakes and rivers in North America and may be responsible for world-wide forest depletion as well Each day thousands of tons of sulfur and nitrogen oxides are pumped into the air by fossil fuel burning plants and automobile exhaust systems Sunlight converts these gases into sulfuric and nitric acids which then are absorbed by the water particles in clouds Mixed with rain and snow they fall back to earth usually hundreds of miles from the original source of the pollution A substances pH factor a figure on a scale of 0 - 14 determines a substances acidity A pH value of 7 is average A figure less than 7 indicates higher acidity and a number more than 7 indicates greater alkalinity Rainfall with a pH lower than 56 is considered abnormally acidic Scientists have discovered that air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is the
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