Acid Rain and its effects on the Taj Mahal

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Definition of Acid Rain

  • Precipitation that has a pH of less than that of natural rainwater (which is about 5.6 due to dissolved carbon dioxide).
  • It is formed when sulphur dioxides and nitrogen oxides, as gases or fine particles in the atmosphere, combine with water vapor and precipitate as sulphuric acid or nitric acid in rain, snow, or fog.

Causes of Acid Rain

  • Emissions from volcanoes and from biological processes that occur on the land, in wetlands, and in the oceans contribute acid-producing gases to the atmosphere
  • Effects of acidic deposits have been detected in glacial ice thousands of years old in remote parts of the globe
  • The principal cause of acid rain is from human sources
  • Industrial factories, power-generating plants and vehicles
  • Sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen are released during the fuel burning process (i.e. combustion)

Affected Areas

  • Industrial acid rain is a substantial problem in China, Eastern Europe and Russia and areas down-wind from them.
  • Acid rain from power plants in the Midwest United States has also harmed the forests of upstate New York and New England.
  • This shows that the effects of acid rain can spread over a large area, far from the source of the pollution
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Effects of Acid Rain

  • Increased acidity in water bodies
  • Stops eggs of certain organisms (e.g. fish) to stop hatching
  • Changes population ratios
  • Affects the ecosystem
  • Harmful to vegetation
  • Increased acidity in soil
  • Leeches nutrients from soil, slowing plant growth
  • Leeches toxins from soil, poisoning plants
  • Creates brown spots in leaves of trees, impeding photosynthesis
  • Allows organisms to infect through broken leaves


  • Accelerates weathering in metal and stone structures
  • E.g. Parthenon in Athens, Greece; Taj Mahal in Agra, India
  • Affects human health
  • Respiratory problems, ...

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