IB Chemistry SL

Revision Notes

8.1.14 Effects of Acid Deposition

Effects of acid deposition

Effect on materials

  • Acid deposition can react with metals and rocks (such as limestone) causing buildings and statues to get damaged
  • Limestone and marble both contain calcium carbonate
  • The calcium carbonate reacts with sulfuric or nitric acids causing stonework to corrode and weaken:

CaCO3 (s)  + H2SO4 (aq)  →  CaSO4 (aq)  +  CO2 (g)  +  H2O (l)

CaCO3 (s)  + 2HNO3 (aq)  →  Ca(NO3)2 (aq)  +  CO2 (g)  +  H2O (l)

Effect on plants

Effect on water

  • When acid rain falls on rivers and lakes the pH can fall to levels that are unable to support life
  • Below about pH 4, aluminium ions are released from rocks when they are held as aluminium hydroxide

Al(OH)3 (s) + 3H+ (aq)  Al3+ (aq)  + 3H2O (l)

  • Alumnium ions are toxic to fish as they damage the gills and prevent fish from efficiently absorbing oxygen
  • Nitrate ions from nitric acid in acid rain can contibute to over-fertilization of waterways and lead to eutrophication
    • Eutrophication is excessive algal growth that results in oxygen depletion and stagnation of waterways

Effect on human health

  • Although acid rain is too dilute to cause any direct impact on the skin, acidic particulates in the air can increase the risk of respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, asthma and emphysema
  • When acid rain comes into contact with metal pipes there is an increased risk that toxic metal ions will be released into the water supply such as Cu2+, Al3+ and Pb2+
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