Acid Rain: Causes and Effects on Environment

The article is written by Pavlo Chaika, the chief editor of the "Piznavayka" magazine. Since its founding in 2013, Pavlo Chaika has been dedicated to popularizing science in the world. The main goal, both of the magazine and of this article, is to explain complex scientific topics in a simple and accessible language.

Acid Rain


  • Definition

  • History

  • Reasons

  • Effects

  • Solutions

  • References and Further Reading


    Acid rain, or acid deposition, is a broad term that includes any form of precipitation with acidic components, such as sulfuric or nitric acid that fall to the ground from the atmosphere in wet or dry forms. This can include rain, snow, fog, hail or even dust that is acidic. Acid rain has become more and more frequent in recent times due to the general deterioration of the ecological situation on our planet.


    The first acid rain in history was recorded back in 1872, just in the heyday of industrialization, the massive construction of factories and mills. By the XX century this phenomenon has become many times more frequent and, of course, we (inhabitants of the XXI century) inherit this “gift”.


    What creates acid rain? Environmentalists divide them into man-made and natural. The anthropogenic causes of acid rain are associated with human action:

    • Emissions by plants and factories of various oxides of nitrogen and sulfur. They interact with water vapor, resulting in sulfuric acid, which falls like acid rain.
    • The exhaust gases of cars.

    Natural causes of acid rain are not related to human activity. They occur as a result of volcanic eruptions, then a large amount of nitrogen-containing substances enter the atmosphere.

    Acid Rain

    Picture of acid rain effecting plants.


    What are the effects of acid rain on plants and on humans? There are many negative consequences:

    • death of crops,
    • water pollution,
    • reduction of forest area,
    • diseases in humans.

    Contact with acid rain increases the risk of asthma, allergies, cancer. Acid rain pollutes the rivers and lakes, the water becomes unusable, and huge populations of fish can die. Plants suffer from acid rain, leaves fall off trees and root development is inhibited, plants become sensitive to temperature extremes.


    The main step in solving the environmental problem of acid rain is to reduce the emission of harmful industrial waste into the atmosphere, to use cleaning filters in factories and mills. All modern technologies should be introduced only after assessing their impact on the environment.

    The use of eco-friendly electric cars will also be a step towards overcoming the problem of acid rain. Tesla – the first electric car becomes more popular. So we want to believe that electric cars will be everywhere in the future and cars on gasoline will become history, like old steam trains.

    References and Further Reading

    • Likens, Gene E.; Keene, William C.; Miller, John M.; Galloway, James N. (1987). “Chemistry of precipitation from a remote, terrestrial site in Australia”. Journal of Geophysical Research. 92 (D11): 13299. Bibcode:1987JGR….9213299L. doi:10.1029/JD092iD11p13299.
    • E. S. de Beer, ed. The Diary of John Evelyn, III, 1955 (September 19, 1667) p. 495.
    • Glossary, United States: NASA Earth Observatory, acid rain, archived from the original on December 13, 2011, retrieved February 15, 2013
    • Weathers, K. C. and Likens, G. E. (2006). “Acid rain”, pp. 1549–1561 in: W. N. Rom and S. Markowitz (eds.). Environmental and Occupational Medicine. Lippincott-Raven Publ., Philadelphia. Fourth Edition, ISBN 0-7817-6299-5.
    • Seinfeld, John H.; Pandis, Spyros N (1998). Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics — From Air Pollution to Climate Change. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. ISBN 978-0-471-17816-3

    Author: Pavlo Chaika, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Poznavayka

    When writing this article, I tried to make it as interesting and useful as possible. I would be grateful for any feedback and constructive criticism in the form of comments to the article. You can also write your wish/question/suggestion to my mail or to Facebook.

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