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Causes & Effects of Acid Rain: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:00 What Is Acid Rain?
  • 1:13 The Effects of Acid Rain
  • 1:35 Preventing Acid Rain
  • 2:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lauren Scott

Lauren has a Master's degree in special education and has taught for more than 10 years.

This lesson will introduce you to acid rain. You will learn what acid rain is, what causes it, and how it damages the environment. You will also learn about the simple things people can do to prevent acid rain.

What Is Acid Rain?

It looks, feels, and tastes like normal rain to you, but it's no treat for your vegetable garden! Acid rain is rainwater that has been made too acidic by certain types of air pollution, or harmful substances that are put in the air. Gases like carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide are released into the atmosphere by cars, airplanes, factories, and power plants. These gases rise into the air and mix with substances like water and oxygen to make slightly acidic rain. The acid returns to earth when it rains or snows, and may also be present in fog.

The level of acidity is measured on a pH scale, a scale that measures how acidic or basic a substance is. Anything with a pH below 7 is considered acidic. Pure water is neutral, having a pH of exactly 7. Rain is usually slightly more acidic than regular water because of the normal presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Normal rain has a pH of about 5.6, while acid rain can have a pH as low as 4.3.

The Effects of Acid Rain

Acid rain causes a lot of damage in some environments. If the pH in the water or soil becomes too low, it can kill fish and plants. Entire forests have died due to acid rain. The problem doesn't just affect nature. Stone statues and buildings start to dissolve when exposed to acid rain. It can even damage the paint on cars!

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