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Acid rain is rain that is more acidic than normal Acid rain is a complicated problem Caused by air pollution acid rains spread and damage involves weather chemistry soil and the life cycles of plants and animals on the land and from acid rain in the water Scientists have discovered that air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is the major cause of acid rain Power plants and factories burn coal and oil Power plants use that coal and oil to produce the electricity we need to heat and light our homes and to run our electric appliances We also burn natural gas coal and oil to heat our homes The smoke and fumes from burning fossil fuels rise into the atmosphere and combine with the moisture in the air to form acid rain The main chemicals in air pollution that create acid rain are sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides Acid rain usually forms high in the clouds where sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides react with water oxygen and oxidants This forms a mild solution of sulfuric acid and nitric acid Sunlight increases the rate of most of these reactions Rainwater snow fog and other forms of precipitation containing those mild solutions of sulfuric and nitric acids fall to the earth as acid rain Water moves through every living plant and animal streams lakes and oceans in the hydrologic cycle In that cycle water evaporates from the land and sea into the atmosphere Water in the atmosphere then condenses to form clouds Clouds release the water back to the earth as rain snow or fog When water droplets form and fall to the earth they pick up particles and chemicals that float in the air Even clean unpolluted air has some particles such as dust or pollen Clean air also contains naturally occurring gases such as carbon dioxide The interaction between the water droplets and the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
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