Pollution and Wastes

How acidic is acid rain?

Acidity or alkalinity is measured by a scale known as the pH (potential for Hydrogen) scale. It runs from zero to 14. Since it is logarithmic, a change in one unit equals a tenfold increase or decrease. So a solution at pH 2 is 10 times more acidic than one at pH 3 and 100 times as acidic as a solution at pH 4. Zero is extremely acid, 7 is neutral, and 14 is very alkaline. Any rain below 5.0 is considered acid rain; some scientists use the value of 5.6 or less. Normal rain and snow containing dissolved carbon dioxide (a weak acid) measure about pH 5.6. Actual values vary according to geographical area. Eastern Europe and parts of Scandinavia have an average rain pH of 4.3 to 4.5; the rest of Europe is 4.5 to 5.1; eastern United States and Canada ranges from 4.2 to 4.6; and Mississippi Valley has a range of 4.6 to 4.8. The worst North American area, having 4.2, is centered around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Science Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App