What Ever Happened To Acid Rain?


I've finally figured it out. Prince must've been singing about ACID RAIN that was BLUE. Because carbonic acid turns litmus paper red… Blue plus red equals purple. If you know what I'm singing about up here. C'mon, raise your hand. Hello pH-balanced friends, Trace here for DNews. If you were to compare environmental issues to fashion trends—and I mean why wouldn’t you—then acid rain would be the equivalent of bell-bottom jeans. People started talking about it in the 60’s, then it slowly infiltrated media and pop culture, and by the mid-1970s’ seemingly everyone had an opinion on it, but since then, where did it go? To understand acid rain you have to understand "pH" levels. pH means "power of hydrogen," essentially it measure the kind of hydrogen in a solution. It's not super important to understand how it works, but it ranges from zero to 14 with zero (battery acid) being the most acidic and 14 (lye) being super alkaline (or basic): 7 is neutral — water is 7, milk is 6, sea water is 9… A change in even one number is a big deal, because pH is measured logarithmically, one number represents a 10-fold change! Okay, so, acid rain is bad, you guys.

Like really bad. It toxifies lakes and streams, destroys forests and threatens entire plant populations. Acid rain is even harmful to urban environments, where it eats away at limestone and marble buildings. All because its pH is crazy. I say crazy, because normal rain is acidic, just a little bit. As rain falls from they sky, it picks up carbon dioxide in the air, creating carbonic acid. This gives natural rain a pH of about 6, just slightly on the acid side — similar to urine or saliva. Regular rain becomes acid rain when it picks up not only carbon dioxide, but sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which contain much stronger acids. These make their way into our atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels to make energy. Once natural rain picks up this acid, its pH can drop as low as 3. That means that rain that goes from pH 6 to pH 3 — it’s 1000 times more acidic!.

Threes are things like citrus, kimchee, or soda! The effects of acid rain entirely depend on where it lands. For instance if it falls on limestone-rich soil, it doesn’t have much of an effect because limestone is naturally alkaline; it has a pH above 7. So mixing acidity with a lower pH just neutralizes it. In fact, to protect cultivated areas from acid rain damage, limestone can be added to soil as a sort-of pH-balancing fertilizer. Though that's pretty much out of the question for huge tracts of land in the wilderness. When acid rain falls on neutral or acidic soil, or on vegetation, that’s when things get bad. Living things have a hard time in acidic environments because the acid basically kills their growth enzymes — fish can't swim in orange juice! What’s more, hydrogen ions in the acid rain replace nutrients in the soil like calcium and magnesium, which are vital for plant growth. This is why we preserve things in vinegar, rather than water because the acid in the vinegar prevents pickles, or kimchi for all you foodies, from growing mold. Keep in mind that we’re talking about ecosystems, so everything is connected. Once acid rain infiltrates soil, it flows into streams and lakes, killing marine life.

Even water-dwelling animals that can live in acidic environments, like frogs, still end up dying, because the acid kills their food sources. This sort of environmental damage stems as far back as the industrial revolution; however the public didn’t really catch wind of it until the 1970’s, after it had already caused massive damage — and that's why you heard about it. Why you don't anymore, is because in the early 1990’s the US government passed a series of regulations that dramatically reduced sulfur dioxide emissions, and acid rain sorta fell off the radar. At least in the U.S…. Acid rain is still an issue in China and Russia, two countries with lots of factories and few environmental regulations. China is particularly bad, as it’s coal contains higher-than-normal-levels of sulfur. Even parts of eastern Europe, Canada and the United States still have rainwater that’s just too acidic.

And even though our rain will likely never return to a 1960’s level of acidity, the effects of this environmental disaster will exist for decades. No domain extension will help you tell your story like a DOT COM or DOT NET domain name. And because you watch DNews, you can get 15% off Domain Dot Com’s names and web hosting by using the code DNews when you check out. So acid rain is still a problem, but what about the hole in the ozone layer? What ever happened to that? You can find out in this video here. Should we do a whole video about pH? That's kinda cool right? Do you have science questions? Tell us in the comments, make sure subscribe so you get the answers and thanks for tuning in to DNews..