Acid rain cycle
Acid rain cycle

Acid rain is a serious environmental problem that affects large parts of the United States and Canada. Acid rain is particularly damaging to lakes, streams, and forests and the plants and animals that live in these ecosystems.
  • acid rain - Atmospheric precipitation with an pH below 5.6 to 5.7.

Acid rain - any form of precipitation with high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids. It can also occur in the form of snow, fog, and tiny bits of dry material that settle to Earth. Rotting vegetation and erupting volcanoes release some chemicals that can cause acid rain, but most acid rain falls because of human activities. The biggest culprit is the burning of fossil fuels by coal-burning power plants, factories, and automobiles.

Acid rain - a broad term referring to a mixture of material from the atmosphere containing higher than normal amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. Acid rain formation results from both natural sources, such as volcanoes and decaying vegetation, and man-made sources, primarily emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from burning fossil fuels, like coal. Acid rain occurs when these gases react in the atmosphere with water and oxygen to form a mild solution of sulfuric acid and nitric acid.

What's the problem?
  • Ask -
  • Imagine -
  • Design, Build -
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That's engineering
  • acidic - the reaction of a substance with water resulting in an increase in concentration of hydrogen ions in solution
  • acidic - forming a compound that usually dissolves in water, has a sour taste, reacting with a base to form a salt and turning litmus paper red

Engineering ideas
  • pH, acid, base, reaction, ion, solution, compound, base, litmus, sulfur, emission, nitrogen, fossil fuel

Do It
Challenges for you to work on...
  • find information about acid rain where you live. Where You Live - Select your region from the map below to find information about regional acid rain programs.
  • try some of the experiments. For most of the science experiments below, you will need a pH indicator, such as wide-range litmus or pH paper, a garden soil pH testing kit, or a pH indicator that you can make yourself.

News, updates

Learn more...
  • Acid rain - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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