Acid rain is caused when polluting chemicals from car exhausts and industrial fumes mix with water and react with atmospheric oxygen to create acidic substances called acids. These can fall as precipitation, mainly in the form of drizzle, fog, or mist, but they are more commonly known as rain because they have a neutral pH value between 5 and 6.5. Acid rain has serious implications for the environment.
It not only damages plants and soils, which can lead to erosion and landslides, but also has a harmful effect on animals such as fish, birds, and insects that live in streams, lakes, or forests where it falls.
How does acid rain affect animals: It makes their skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light by breaking down its protective oils; it destroys the natural defenses that keep their skin from infections; it weakens their immune systems; it causes dehydration, and it makes them more vulnerable to predators.
How Does Acid Rain Affect Animals?
The most important way in which acid rain harms animals is by weakening their immune systems. This makes them less able to fight off infections, which can be fatal. An animal whose immune system has been weakened by acid rain is therefore at increased risk of catching diseases and infections such as pneumonia or blood poisoning or suffering from allergic reactions to things such as bites or scratches.
Acid rain also weakens an animal’s skin, making it more sensitive to ultraviolet light. This is because it breaks down the oils found in the outer layer of the skin, making it more likely to suffer from sunburn. Acid rain also breaks down the natural defenses that keep an animal’s skin from infection, so it becomes more likely to get infected by things such as bacteria or fungi.
What Animals Are Most Affected by Acid Rain?
As a general rule, animals that live in aquatic environments, such as streams, lakes, and ponds, are most affected by acid rain. This is because their organisms are naturally more susceptible to changes in their environment, and those changes are much more pronounced in aquatic environments.
Fish and other aquatic animals are the most affected by acid rain because they live in environments that are naturally more acidic, and they are often less able to deal with changes in the pH of the water.
Fish are particularly susceptible to changes in acidity because they have no protective skin barrier against the acid. Their organs, muscles, and tissues are all directly exposed to the water, so any changes in their pH can affect them directly.
Fish are also more likely to die when acid rain falls because they are less able to swim away from it. They cannot always find their way out of the water quickly enough to escape the falling acid rain, particularly if it falls at night.
1. Fish and other aquatic animals
Fish are particularly affected by changes in the acidity of water because they are unable to regulate their internal pH, which means that any change in the water’s pH will affect them accordingly. Acid rain can change the pH of aquatic environments, which makes it hard for fish to survive. Fish can adapt to changes in pH by moving to different environments.
However, if the change is too drastic, they cannot survive. For example, a change from normal pH levels to very acidic ones would kill them because they cannot regulate their pH that far. Fish are therefore more likely to die when acid rain falls because they cannot escape to a different environment. They cannot always find their way out of the water quickly enough to escape the falling acid rain, particularly if it falls at night.
Birds are also less able to adapt to changes in the acidity of water because they are unable to regulate their internal pH, meaning any change in the water’s pH will affect them accordingly. However, birds have more options than fish when it comes to escaping acid rain, as they are able to fly away.
Bird species that prefer nesting near aquatic environments are therefore more likely to die when acid rain falls because they cannot escape to a different environment.
For example, species such as the mallard duck and blue-winged teal, which prefer to nest near water, are generally more affected by acid rain than those that nest away from water, such as robins. Bird species that nest in trees, such as the red-winged blackbird, are less affected because they can fly to different environments.
Insects also have limited options when it comes to escaping acid rain. They can either remain in the water, where they may be killed, or fly to different environments, which could lead to an increase in the number of insects in other areas.
The amount of insects in an area is an indication of the health of the environment, so if their numbers increase when acid rain falls, it can be a sign that the water is unhealthy.
4. Other animals
Animals such as reptiles, amphibians, and mammals have skin that is naturally more resistant to changes in the acidity of water. However, many of the same harmful effects of acid rain on fish and birds can also apply to these animals, particularly if they are aquatic species.
In addition, acid rain can also affect birds of prey that hunt aquatic animals, such as fish, frogs, and crayfish, by making it more difficult for them to catch their prey.
Protecting animals from acid rain
Fortunately, there are ways we can protect animals from the harmful effects of acid rain. The most obvious way is to reduce the amount of acid-producing chemicals that are released into the atmosphere.
This can be done by reducing or removing the number of sulfur emissions from power stations, cars, and factories. Sulfur is one of the main chemicals that react with oxygen in the atmosphere to create acids such as sulfuric acid and nitric acid.
Unfortunately, many animals are affected by acid rain every day. The problem is caused when factories release chemicals into the air. These chemicals then rise up into the clouds and fall back down to Earth as rain. The rain becomes more acidic and can harm plants, fish, and animals.
We can start to reduce the negative effects of air pollution by reducing the number of chemicals we put into the atmosphere. Another way to help reduce the amount of air pollution is by planting trees and vegetation, which will absorb some of the harmful gases in the air.
The most important thing we can do is work to reduce the number of chemicals released into the air. This will help reduce the amount of acid rain, which will mean a healthier environment for animals and humans alike.