Environmental Effects

Acid rain mainly affects three areas in our environment. They are surface waters and aquatic animals, soils, and forests and other vegetation.

Surface Waters and Aquatic Animals:

     Not all lakes exposed to acid rain become acidic. Those with enough limestone rock can naturally neutralize the acid. However, the majority of bodies of water that can’t  neutralize the acid are altered due to the change in PH. Those that have become acidic are not able to support the same water life as other healthy lakes. Many fish populations decrease, due to the fact that they can't withstand the acidity. As a result, many water birds and ducks that depend on the fish disappear. However, some life can actually survive and benefit from the acidic waters. Lake bottom plants and mosses along with blackfly larvae prosper in acidic waters.

     Below is a graph shows that different water life can tolerate different levels of acidity.

Forest and Vegetation

     The effects of acid rain, or acid precipitation on forest depends on the region. The surface of leaves and needles is damaged by acid rain and acid fog, which reduces the trees ability to resist the cold and suppress plant germination and reproduction. High altitude forests are more vulnerable due to the fact that they are surrounded by clouds and fog that is more acidic than acid rain. Forests and vegetation also suffer from the effects that acid rain has on the soils. Extended exposure to acid rain causes forest soils to lose valuable nutrients. This results in an increase in aluminum in the soil, which interferes with the absorption of the remaining nutrients by the trees. Therefore trees or plants grow more slowly or do not grow at all. Trees and plants may also lose their leaves.


     The effects of acid rain on soils depends on the soil's ability to neutralize acids. Acidic soils tend to lose their nutrients which results in the decrease of vegetation growing in the soils. With the decrease of trees and vegetation in the soils and in turn roots holding the soils in place, the soil can be washed away into their water sheds. Many regreening projects involve the placement of lime in the soils so that the acidity can be neutralized.