What is acid rain?
Everybody knows that the normal pH of water is 5.6. That is, normal rain water is slightly acidic in nature. This is due to the presence of protons formed by reaction of water with carbon dioxide present in the air. When pH of rain water drops anywhere below 5.6, it is said to be acid rain. The main cause for acid rain is the presence of high levels of oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, which are already acidic in nature.
Causes of acid rain
Acid rain is the final product of a variety of human activities, which leads to the emission of oxides of sulphur and nitrogen in the atmosphere. This includes burning of fossil fuels containing sulphur and nitrogenous matter (such as coal and oil in furnaces and power stations, petrol and diesel in automobiles). Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide on oxidation followed by reaction with water forms sulphuric acid and nitric acid respectively. Sulphuric acid and nitric acid, so formed, are the major sources of protons in rain water, and finally results in acid rain. The above reaction takes place at an accelerated rate in the case of polluted air. This is because, polluted air contains particulate matter which catalyses the reaction.
Effects of acid rain
Acid rain washes away nutrients needed for the growth of plants. Thus, acid rain causes great damage to plants. It also causes respiratory disorders in humans. Acid rain falling onto the earth finally flows into rivers and lakes. After reaching rivers and other bodies, they cause severe damage to the plant and animal life in aquatic system. It affects buildings and structures, especially those made of metal or stone. The Taj Mahal in India has been seriously affected by acid rain.
Effects of acid rain on Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is situated in Agra. The air in this place contains serious levels of sulphur and nitrogen oxides. This is due to the large number of power plants and industries set up around this area. All these led to acid rain. Acid rain reacted with the marble (calcium carbonate) of Taj Mahal. This caused damage to this wonderful structure, which had attracted many people from different parts of the world.
Acid rain is a serious threat to the environment. To protect Taj Mahal, the Government of India announced an action plan in 1995. The plan aims at clearing the air in 'Taj Trapezium'. Taj Trapezium refers to an area that includes towns of Agra, Mathura, Bharatpur and Firozabad. As a result of this plan, over 2000 industries situated inside the trapezium had switched over to the use of liquefied petroleum gas or natural gas in the place of coal or oil. It is the duty of each and every citizen of India to protect the historic monument, the Taj Mahal, India's pride.
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