While the human health impacts from
acid rain are not direct, the pollutants which cause
sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx)
do damage human health (EPA Acid Rain & Human
Health). Students will use real-time weather
maps to determine the likelihood of acid rainfall
in a region. Students will apply their understanding
of interaction between weather systems, land
and air pollution, to address acid rain and the
effects on human health.
Students will be able to:
1. Use the following to determine likelihood of acid
rain falling in a specific U.S. region:
b. dew point,
c. landforms, and
d. front information.
2. Describe in writing the link between acid rain and
National Science Education Standard:
CONTENT STANDARD D: Earth and Space Science
ENERGY IN THE EARTH SYSTEM
systems have internal and external sources of energy,
both of which create heat. The sun is the major
external source of energy. Two primary sources of internal
energy are the decay of radioactive isotopes and the gravitational
energy from the earth’s original formation.
Heating of earth’s surface and atmosphere by the
sun drives convection within the atmosphere and oceans,
producing winds and ocean currents.
Global climate is determined by energy transfer from the
sun at and near the earth’s surface. This energy
transfer is influenced by dynamic processes, such as cloud
cover and the earth’s rotation, and static conditions,
such as the position of mountain ranges and oceans.
• Movement of matter between reservoirs is driven
by the earth’s internal and external energy sources.
These movements are often accompanied by a change in the
physical and chemical properties of the matter. Carbon,
for example, occurs in carbonate rocks, such as limestone,
in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas, in water as dissolved
carbon dioxide, and in all organisms as complex molecules
controlling life’s chemistry.
Acid rain has higher acidic levels and forms through a
complex process of chemical reactions involving air pollution.
The two most important pollutants contributing to acid
rain formation are oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide,
which react with atmospheric moisture to form nitric and
sulfuric acid. The sulfur and nitrogen compounds contributing
to acid rain primarily come from manmade sources like factory
industries and utilities. Emissions also come from transportation
and industrial processes, such as smelting.
Acid rain can do the following:
a. harm forests and crops,
b. damage bodies of water, and
c. contribute to the damage of statues and buildings.
Researchers are considering the possible effects of acid
rain on human health. These acidic pollutants can be deposited
through rain, snow, fog, dew, or sleet. Large quantities
can also be deposited in dry form through dust.
Pollutants which contribute to acid rain may drift hundreds
of miles before depositing on the earth, creating difficultly
in determining the specific sources of the acid rain pollutants.
EPA On Acid Rain: http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/effects/health.html
Environmental Literacy Council on Acid Rain: http://www.enviroliteracy.org/article.php/2.html
Environment Canada: http://www.ec.gc.ca/acidrain/acidhealth.html
Wikipedia on Acid Rain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_rain
USGS on Acid Rain: http://bqs.usgs.gov/acidrain/index.html
Report on Acid Rain: http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/resources/arsenic/acidrain.pdf (PDF)