How Acid Rain is Chemically Created

     As everyone knows there are many contributors to acid rain, among them industrial corporations and of course, everyday human actions. We know that these outputs create chemicals that combine with water molecules in the sky and then fall as acid rain. The formulas are a bit more complicated, as the reactants are made through different processes, however they may be generalized as follows.

     The acidity of something is affected by the amount of hydrogen ions present, and so the chemicals that create acid rain are chemicals that combine with water and create high levels of H.

     One chemical that is released by humans in their car exhaust is Nitrogen Oxide, NOx. It is also released naturally in a lightning storm due to atmospheric gas. In the air it reacts with the oxygen to become nitrogen dioxide, NO2


           2NO + O2 ---} 2NO2

      These then react with water and there are a series of separations that eventually lead to hydrogen ions being formed, and thus acidity.


     3NO2 + H2O ---} 2HNO3 + NO

                                        HNO3 ---} H + NO3

     Although this is a large contributor to acid rain, another is sulfur dioxide, SO2, a product of fossil fuels. Therefore when natural gas is used or any other time fossil fuels are burned, sulfur is released which reacts with the oxygen in the air. Since we emit this so much it makes up for 75% of the air's acidic contributors. It produces sulfuric acid which later separates to have hydrogen ions.

          2SO2 + O2 ---}  2SO3

         SO3 + H20 ---} H2SO4

           H2SO4 ---} HSO4 + H

      As seen, there are now H and HSO4. The HSO4 may further break apart.

             HSO4 ---} SO4 + H

     Overall the H made in the reactions with Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen oxide combine and make the acidity in the rain.