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Acid Rain

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McWane Science Center


McWane Science Center


In this activity, the effects that varying pH levels have on plants are tested as a way to see the importance of clean, fresh water to living things. This activity will also demonstrate that water pollution is not just a local issue, but rather a global issue.

Acid rain is a prime example of how activities in one area can have a serious effect on conditions of a global scale. Acid rain primarily results from the transformation of industrial pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides into other compounds such as sulphuric acid (H2SO4), and nitric acid (HNO3). This transformation occurs as these pollutants are transported in the atmosphere over distances of hundreds to thousands of kilometers. For example, sulfur dioxide emissions from industrial processes and the burning of fossil fuels have resulted in extensive acid rain and accompanying water pollution problems in southeastern Canada and the northeastern US. These emissions have global implications: more than half of the acid deposition in eastern Canada originates from emissions in the United States. Even slight changes in the pH of lakes and rivers can cause the loss of fish and invertebrates which are important links in the food chain. Acid rain is also responsible for extensive loss of forest cover in that region.

Length: 01:17

Content Areas: Science

Alabama Course of Study Alignments and/or Professional Development Standard Alignments:

SC (3)
13. Describe ways to sustain natural resources, including recycling, reusing, conserving, and protecting the environment.
  • Recognizing the impact of society on human health and environmental conditions
    SC (6)
    3. Describe water and carbon biogeochemical cycles and their effects on Earth.
    SC (7)
    7. Describe biotic and abiotic factors in the environment.
    biotic—plants, animals;
    abiotic—climate, water, soil
  • Classifying organisms as autotrophs or heterotrophs
  • Arranging the sequence of energy flow in an ecosystem through food webs, food chains, and energy pyramids


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