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Acid Rain

In this worksheet, students will check their knowledge of acid rain, how it is formed and what affect it can have on the environment.

'Acid Rain' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:   Chemistry: Earth and Atmosphere

Curriculum subtopic:   Human Activity and Climate

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Rain is an essential part of our lives. It allows plants to grow and helps provide us with the water that we need to survive. The rain, however, is not always just water: pollution in the air has affected the rain and dissolved gases can turn it into ... acid rain.

 

Rain

 

What is Acid Rain?

 

As the name suggests, acid rain is simply when the rain becomes acidic, but what you might not know is that the everyday rain is already very weakly acidic.

 

Everyday rainwater usually has a pH of around 5-6.  It has, however, been recorded to have a pH of less than 3 (rain water in in USA was once measured at pH 1.8!) and this is what we call acid rain.

 

 

What Causes Acid Rain?

 

Acid rain is caused by pollutant gases in the atmosphere dissolving in the rain water and making it acidic. There are three main gases responsible for acid rain.

 


Pollutant Gas

Where does it come from? What does it do?

Carbon Dioxide   

Naturally exists in the atmosphere due to life processes such as respiration.

A cartoon man in cold weather can see his breath. - stock photo

Everyday rainwater is slightly acidic, due to carbon dioxide in the air dissolving to produce the very weak carbonic acid.  

Sulfur Dioxide

Produced by factories through the burning of fossil fuels:

 Nuclear power station on white background, vector - stock vector

 

Sulfur dioxide is also naturally produced during volcanic eruptions:

Illustration of a volcano erupting - stock vector 

Sulfur Dioxide will dissolve in the rainwater to produce strong sulfurous acid (leading to acid rain).
Oxides of Nitrogen                

Produced by car engines with the ignition is switched on:

Generic sport utility vehicle emitting exhaust fumes - stock vector

 

Oxides of nitrogen are also naturally produced during lightning storms:

 Thunder cloud and lightning illustration over white background - stock photo

Oxides of nitrogen will dissolve in the rainwater to produce strong nitric acid (leading to acid rain).

 

 

What Does Acid Rain Do? 

 

Acid rain is not usually strong enough to burn your skin and clothing, but it can have many detrimental effects on both the living and non-living things in our environment.  

 

Acid rain formation

 

How Can We Prevent Acid Rain?

 

All cars are now fitted with catalytic convertors to help convert the pollutant gases into less harmful ones.

 

Petrol companies have also produced low sulfur petrol to help decrease the amount of sulfur dioxide produced.

 

Some of the carbon dioxide in the air is unavoidable, as it naturally exists due to life processes.  We could help prevent acid rain, however, by trying to produce less unnecessary CO2 through the use of alternative energy sources, which also helps to reduce the sulfur dioxide content of the air as much of this comes from low-grade fossil fuels.

What is the pH of everyday rain water?

strongly acidic

weakly acidic

neutral

weakly alkaline

strongly alkaline

Which of the following gases contribute to the formation of acid rain?

Oxygen

Carbon Dioxide

Sulfur Dioxide

Oxides of Hydrogen

Oxides of Nitrogen

Sodium Oxide

Match up the correct pollutant gas with its source.  

Column A

Column B

Carbon Dioxide
Respiration
Sulfur Dioxide
Car Engines
Oxides of Nitrogen
Volcanic Eruptions

What is produced when sulfur dioxide dissolves in the rain water?

Sulphurous Acid

Sulphur Dioxide

Sulphur Hyrdroxide

Nitrogen Sulphate

Carbon dioxide dissolves in rain water to produce carbonic acid. Is carbonic acid strong or weak? 

weak

strong

Which of the following can be caused by acid rain? Tick any that apply.

damage to buildings

damage to cars

damage to plant life

damage to aquatic life

damage to stone structures

damage to metal structures

What have petrol companies done to help prevent the acid rain?

produced more fuel

produced less fuel

produced low sulfur fuel

produced high sulfur fuel

What have all cars been fitted with to help convert pollutant gases into less harmful gases?

Electric Converter

Catalytic Converter

Petrol Converter

Pollution Converter

Which gas dissolves in water to produce Nitric Acid?

Carbon Dioxide

Sulfur Dioxide

Oxides of Nitrogen

What is the pH of acid rain?

strongly acidic

weakly acidic

neutral

weakly alkaline

strongly alkaline

  • Question 1

What is the pH of everyday rain water?

CORRECT ANSWER
weakly acidic
EDDIE SAYS
Everyday rainwater usually has a pH of around 5-6, so it is weakly acidic (the lower the pH level, the more acidic the substance).
  • Question 2

Which of the following gases contribute to the formation of acid rain?

CORRECT ANSWER
Carbon Dioxide
Sulfur Dioxide
Oxides of Nitrogen
EDDIE SAYS
The main gases that contribute to acid rain are carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.
  • Question 3

Match up the correct pollutant gas with its source.  

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Carbon Dioxide
Respiration
Sulfur Dioxide
Volcanic Eruptions
Oxides of Nitrogen
Car Engines
EDDIE SAYS
Carbon Dioxide is produced during respiration, as well as through other processes like burning. Sulfur Dioxide is caused by coal-burning power stations and volcanic eruptions, and Oxides of Nitrogen are caused by car engines and lightning storms.
  • Question 4

What is produced when sulfur dioxide dissolves in the rain water?

CORRECT ANSWER
Sulphurous Acid
EDDIE SAYS
When sulphur dioxide dissolves in rain water, sulphurous acid is produced and, consequently, acid rain.
  • Question 5

Carbon dioxide dissolves in rain water to produce carbonic acid. Is carbonic acid strong or weak? 

CORRECT ANSWER
weak
EDDIE SAYS
Carbonic acid is a weak substance, and would not harm our skin or clothes if we came into contact with it.
  • Question 6

Which of the following can be caused by acid rain? Tick any that apply.

CORRECT ANSWER
damage to buildings
damage to cars
damage to plant life
damage to aquatic life
damage to stone structures
damage to metal structures
EDDIE SAYS
All of the above can be caused by acid rain! It can cause cars and metal structures to rust a lot faster than usual, damage building and stone structures and harm living thing both on land and in the water.
  • Question 7

What have petrol companies done to help prevent the acid rain?

CORRECT ANSWER
produced low sulfur fuel
EDDIE SAYS
A lot of sulfur dioxide is caused by car engines. So, by producing low sulfur fuel, petrol companies are helping to prevent acid rain. By using our cars less and working towards a less fossil-fuel dependent society, we help improve a variety of bad situations for our world.
  • Question 8

What have all cars been fitted with to help convert pollutant gases into less harmful gases?

CORRECT ANSWER
Catalytic Converter
EDDIE SAYS
All new cars are fitted with a Catalytic Converter - a device fixed in the car exhaust which converts harmful pollutant gases into less harmful ones.
  • Question 9

Which gas dissolves in water to produce Nitric Acid?

CORRECT ANSWER
Oxides of Nitrogen
EDDIE SAYS
Oxides of Nitrogen are collectively known as NOx and when they dissolve in rain, the solutions produced contain acids, including nitric acid.
  • Question 10

What is the pH of acid rain?

CORRECT ANSWER
strongly acidic
EDDIE SAYS
Acid rain usually has a pH 3 or lower, which is very worrying for life in the areas where it is this bad. Ponds and lakes have been known to become lifeless, trees die off and soils become unusable. That's why a lot of work is going into solving the problem of acid rain.
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