When it comes to the dangers of pollution, you probably think of smog and other visible contaminants. However, there are some less obvious yet equally dangerous threats. Among them is acid rain, a mixture of acidic substances that fall as precipitation when gaseous emissions react with the moisture in the air.
Acidic rain is caused by the mixing of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions with humidity in the atmosphere above clear-cut forests or high uptakes of ozone from polluting factories. A result is an acidic chemical reaction where these chemicals become diluted with water and precipitate as acid rain.
In this article, we will explore the impact of acid rain on your body and what you can do to mitigate its effects on you. Read on to discover more about this hidden danger.
What is Acid Rain?
Acid rain is a form of precipitation that has been exposed to various pollutants within the atmosphere that causes it to become acidic. These pollutants are usually nitric oxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.
When these chemicals come into contact with moisture in the air (such as fog or cloud water), they undergo chemical reactions that result in them becoming acidic – hence why we call it ‘acid rain’.
The three characteristics of acid rain are:
- The presence of low levels of toxic chemicals in the water can kill fish.
- The presence of acid-forming substances in the soil can kill plants.
- The presence of low pH in the atmosphere can cause damage to the health of people, animals, and plants.
What Does Acid Rain Do To Your Body?
Exposure to acid rain can cause considerable damage and harm to the body, depending on the duration and concentration of the acid in the air. Some of the potential effects include:
Damage to the skin – When it comes into contact with acid rain, the skin will feel irritated, itchy, and red. Over time, it can also become dry and flaky. The damage is caused by the destruction of the skin’s fatty acids and the destruction of skin cells.
Damage to the respiratory system – The respiratory system is home to millions of beneficial organisms. However, exposure to acid rain can disrupt their function, as well as damage the respiratory system itself.
Damage to the nervous system – The nervous system is responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Acid rain can affect the nervous system by weakening the body’s natural defenses against disease and making them more susceptible to infection.
Damage to the digestive system – The digestive system is responsible for the transformation of food into energy, as well as a source of nutrients for the body. Acid rain affects healthy bacteria in our gut which can lead to digestive problems such as diarrhea and stomach aches.
Damage to your hair – Acid rain can have some pretty bad effects on your hair. When exposed to it, your hair will become brittle and break more easily. It can also become dull and lifeless. So if you live in an area where acid rain is a problem, be sure to take extra care of your hair!
Long-term Effects of Acidic Rain on Your Body
The long-term effects of acid rain on your body are wide-reaching and devastating. Long-term exposure to acid rain can cause serious damage to the internal organs, weakening their function and making them more susceptible to disease. If the nervous system has been exposed to acid rain for long periods of time, it can become extremely weak and susceptible to damage.
The respiratory system is responsible for breathing. If it has been exposed to acid rain for long periods of time, it can cause diseases like respiratory diseases or make them worse when it comes to pollution like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Respiratory diseases make it hard for people to breathe.
Nitrogen oxides are a cause of ozone. It is possible that ground-level ozone can cause lung damage as well as respiratory problems. Acid rain is not the reason for people’s health problems, it’s caused by the tiny particles of ozone that people breathe in.
The risk of being harmed by swimming in an acidic lake or walking in an acidic puddle isn’t any more harmful than swimming or walking in clean water.
Ways to Protect Yourself From the Effects of Acid Rain
Now that you know the dangers that come with acid rain, it’s time to learn how to protect yourself from it. The best way to do this is to reduce your exposure to it. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Avoid outdoor activities during times of high acidity. You can check the level of acidity in the air with apps and websites that monitor atmospheric conditions. You can also keep an eye on the weather forecast to see if it is prone to rain. Avoid heading out when acidity is high.
- Avoid walking in forests and other areas that are prone to high acidity. Acid rain accumulates in areas that are prone to high acidity. When it rains, it washes all the accumulated acidity into the water system. If you have to walk in these areas, make sure to wear protective clothing such as gloves, boots, and a hat.
- Limit your intake of meat and fish. The meat and fish industry contributes to the production of acids. If your diet is high in meat and fish, you are putting your body at risk.
- Avoid drinking water from areas prone to high acidity. The rain washes all the accumulated acids into the water system, making it extremely acidic and unsafe to drink.
Acid rain is a dangerous and insidious type of pollution that can have a damaging effect on your health if you aren’t careful. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to avoid. By keeping your home and work space free from pollutants, limiting your intake of meat and fish, and avoiding areas with a high propensity for acidity, you can greatly reduce your risk of exposure to harmful acids.
If, despite your best efforts, you find yourself exposed to high levels of acidity, be sure to wash your skin thoroughly.