The Effects of Acid Rain on Soil and Copper – Kaia and Alexander
In this lab, acid rain was synthetically created using a combination of sulfuric and nitric acids in a 9:5 ratio to test the effects of acid rain on two organic materials; soil and copper. As pollutants in the air that fall back down to earth by precipitation cause acid rain, HNO3 and H2SO4 were used as the acids in the synthetic acid rain as they are common pollutants. Acid rain can cause plants and soil to be unviable and can cause corrosion on metals, and stone. In the lab set-up 3 trials were simulated. Soil was placed in 3 Buchner funnels and was then exposed to distilled water, tap water, or synthetic acid rain. The runoff collected after the soil was tested for calcium. Calcium was present in the acid rain runoff and the tap water runoff. The acid rain runoff had a higher mass of calcium than the tap water, while the distilled water had minimal calcium present. The cation exchange that occurred between the hydrogen in the acid and the calcium in the soil accounted for the greater amount of calcium in the acid rain runoff and the minimal amount in the distilled water runoff. These results supported the initial hypothesis that acid rain causes soil to lose essential elements and replaces them with hydrogen. Copper was also used as an example of how acid is able to degrade minerals, including those used in structures. Different samples copper were tested after being soaked in different types of acid as well as distilled and tap water as a control. The results supported the initial hypothesis that acid corrodes copper faster than normal rain would and can prove detrimental to many manmade structures.

Keywords: Acid rain, soil, copper, pH level, acidic basic, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, synthetic acid rain



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Table: Mass Change in Precipitate over Time



Distilled Water (Run through Soil) (g)

Tap Water (Run through Soil) (g)
Pure Tap Water (g) (0.04grams higher because of different Filter Paper)
Acid Rain Solution (Run through Soil) (g)


First Mass
1.16
1.20
1.22
1.19
Second Mass
1.17
1.24
1.23
1.21
Third Mass
1.18
1.24
1.24
1.21
Fourth Mass
1.18
1.24
1.24
1.21
Fifth Mass
1.19
1.25
1.27
1.22
End Mass (Minus Filter Paper)
0.02
0.08
0.06
0.05

Journal Citations:rain, soil, copper, pH level, acidic basic, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, synthetic acid rain

D.D., Richter, Johnson D. W, and Todd D. E. "Atmospheric sulfur deposition, neutralization, and ion leaching in two deciduous forest ." Journal of Environmental Quality 12 (1983): 263-270. Print.
Retrieved from: http://jeq.scijournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/12/2/263

Scholle, Stephen R. "Acid Deposition and the Materials Damage Question." Environment 25.8 (1983): 25. Science Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 26 May 2010.
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