The Deadly Impact Of Acid Rain On Aquatic Life

by | Aug 3, 2023 | Conservation, Environmental Impact Assessment

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Acid rain causes huge environmental damage, especially to marine life. It sabotages the reproduction and laying of eggs in fish and other marine life. If you’re concerned about the impact of acid rain on aquatic life, you need to read this! This article closely examines what acid rain is, how it impacts aquatic life, and how you can avoid it

What is Acid Rain?

Acid Rain is a type of precipitation with acidic components that falls to the ground from the atmosphere in wet or dry forms. This can include Rain, snow, fog, hail, or even acidic dust. Sulfur and nitrogen are released into the atmosphere by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, natural fires, lightning, and microbiological processes. However, human activity is responsible for the majority of sulfur dioxide emissions due to fuel combustion in industry and power plants, as well as half of nitrogen oxide emissions due to gases created by motor vehicles. Similarly, but to a lesser level, extensive cattle production generates ammonia from organic matter decomposition. These three pollutants, which can travel vast distances from their source, oxidize in the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere, creating sulphuric Acid and nitric Acid.

Geographic Distribution of Acid Rain

Acidity in Rain is evaluated by collecting rain samples and measuring their pH. Weather conditions are observed, and rain samples are collected at several locations across the country to determine the distribution of rain acidity. The Northeastern United States has the highest acidity (lowest pH values). The vast number of cities, dense population, and concentration of electricity and industrial units in the Northeast all contribute to this trend of high acidity. Furthermore, the typical wind direction carries storms and pollution from the Midwest to the Northeast, and dust from soil and rocks in the Northeast is less likely to neutralize acidity in Rain.

What Causes Acid Rain?

Sulfur and nitrogen oxides are released into the atmosphere and carried by wind and air currents, resulting in Acid Rain. Sulfuric and nitric acids are formed when SO2 and NOX combine with water, oxygen, and other molecules. These combine with water and other substances before falling to the ground.

While some of the SO2 and NOX that create Acid Rain come from natural sources such as volcanoes, the vast majority comes from the combustion of fossil fuels. The following are the primary sources of SO2 and NOX in the atmosphere:

1. To generate power, fossil fuels are burned. Electric power plants emit two-thirds of SO2 and one-fourth of NOX into the atmosphere.

2. Vehicles and heavy machinery.

3. Manufacturing, oil refineries, and other industries are examples.

Winds can transport SO2 and NOX across large distances and borders, causing Acid Rain to affect everyone, not just those who live near the origins.

What Is The Impact of Acid Rain on Aquatic Life?

Acid Rain’s biological consequences are most visible in marine areas such as streams, lakes, and marshes, where it can affect fish and other species. Acidic rainwater can drain aluminium from soil clay particles as it passes through the soil and into streams and lakes. The greater the amount of Acid put into the ecosystem, the more aluminium is liberated.

Some plants and animals can withstand acidic waters and trace quantities of aluminium. Others, on the other hand, are acid-sensitive and will die as the pH drops. Most animals’ young are more sensitive to environmental conditions than adults. Most fish eggs will not hatch at pH 5. Some mature fish die at lower pH values. Some acidic lakes are devoid of fish. Even though a fish or animal can survive in mildly acidic water, the animals or plants it consumes may not. Frogs, for example, have a critical pH of roughly 4, but the mayflies they feed are more sensitive and may die if the pH falls below 5.5.

The Deadly Impact of Acid Rain on Aquatic Life

 

High acidity, particularly from sulfur deposition, can hasten the conversion of elemental mercury to its most lethal form, methyl mercury, a neurotoxin. This conversion is rampant in wetlands and water-saturated soils, where low-oxygen situations provide optimal circumstances for bacteria to produce methyl mercury. Bioaccumulation occurs when methylmercury accumulates in species as it goes up the food chain. As animals at higher levels of the food chain must continually ingest many organisms from lower levels, methylmercury concentrations in top predators, which often include humans, rise to dangerous levels. The bioaccumulation of methylmercury in fish tissues is the primary basis for government health advisories advising against eating fresh and saltwater fish.

Furthermore, aquatic acidification may be episodic, particularly in colder climates. Accumulated sulfuric and nitric Acid in a snowpack can leach out quickly during the initial snowmelt, resulting in a pulse of acidic meltwater. Such pulses may be substantially more acidic than any snowfall occurrence during winter, and they can be lethal to acid-sensitive aquatic creatures across the food chain.

How Can You Avoid Acid Rain?

As we are the primary cause, the solution to the problem of environmental acidification is in our hands: reducing pollutant emissions is critical to mitigating Acid Rain. A commitment at the government and corporate levels is required to drive a set of measures:

1. Filter and cleanse the factory water before returning it to the rivers.

2. Reduce polluting gas emissions from industries.

3. Encourage the use of renewable energy in place of fossil fuels.

4. Reduce factory and company energy use.

5. Encourage the development of innovative technologies and innovations targeted at reducing energy use and creating renewable energy.

6. Plant trees to absorb pollutants in the air.

7. Make the general public aware of the need to lower domestic energy consumption.

8. Encourage using electric automobiles and other non-polluting modes, such as bicycles.

The Bottomline

Acid Rain’s biological consequences are most visible in aquatic areas such as streams, lakes, and marshes, where it can affect fish and other species. Acid Rain affects the effectiveness of marine animal egg production by destroying the shells of fertilized eggs, causing the growing embryo to die. The population ratio and the frequency of genes are also influenced. Some plants and animals can withstand acidic waters and trace quantities of aluminium. Others, on the other hand, are acid-sensitive and will die as the pH drops. Most animals’ young are more sensitive to environmental conditions than adults.

Most fish eggs will not hatch at pH 5. Some mature fish die at lower pH values. Some acidic lakes are devoid of fish. Even though a fish or animal can survive in mildly acidic water, the animals or plants it consumes may not. The solution to the problem of environmental acidification is in our hands. Hence proper measures for reducing pollutant emissions to reduce Acid Rain should be taken.

The deadly impact of acid rain on aquatic life serves as a stark reminder of the far-reaching consequences of human actions on the environment. As we strive to build a sustainable future, it is crucial to address the root causes of acid rain, reduce emissions, and invest in cleaner technologies. By taking proactive measures to mitigate the effects of acid rain, we can safeguard the diverse array of aquatic organisms and ensure the long-term health and vitality of our precious water resources. The protection of aquatic life is not only a matter of environmental responsibility but also a key pillar in preserving the interconnected web of life on our planet.

Also Read: What Are The Biggest Environmental Problems?

 

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