ABSTRACT: The study was undertaken to determine the effects of acid rain on the environment in Eket local government area, Akwa Ibom State. Three research questions and three hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. Five hundred (500) people were randomly selected from five (5) villages. Instrument for data collection was sampling techniques and chi-square were used to analyze the data collected. The findings from the study indicated that acid rain has tremendous effects resulting in deteriorating state of the environmental media. Based on these findings, recommendations were made among others that reduction in the release of atmospheric pollutants, use of alternative energy and legislation on the control of environmental pollution.
Effects of Acid Rain on Environment
1.1 Background to the Study
Since the beginning of civilization human beings have used various natural resources for their benefit. To make life easier, they have produced facilities that use many of the earth’s energy resources. Energy is manly produced by burning fuels such as coal, oil and natural gases. On one side this kind of development makes our lives easier, but On the other hand, it results in pollution by release of harmful substances into the environment. Burning of fossil fuels in industries and transport sector, industrialization and urbanization have led to increase in concentrations of gaseous and particulate pollutants in the atmosphere leading to air pollution (Tripathi and Gautam, 2007). Acid rain is one of the most serious environmental problems emerged due to air pollution.
Acid rain is a broad term that describes several ways through which acid falls out from the atmosphere. According to Edwin (2018), it occurs when acid-forming chemicals react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen and other chemicals to form various acid compounds. These acidic compounds fall to the earth as acid rain, fog, snow or as dry deposited gases and particles that can be blown to the ground by the acid. It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic lives and infrastructure.
The problem of acid rain is widely believed to result from the washout of oxides of sulphur, nitrogen and other constituents present in the atmosphere. The main sources of these oxides are coal fired power stations, smelters (producing So2) and motor vehicle exhaust (producing Nox). There oxides may react with other chemicals and produce corrosive substances that are washed out either in wet or dry form by rain as acid deposition. Initially events of acidic rainfall were frequent only around industrial areas. But with the increased use of tall stacks of power Plant and industries, atmospheric emission are being transported regionally and even globally (Wash et al., 2006)
Acid rain affects the quality of human life, threatens environmental stability and the sustainability of food and timber reserves, thus posing an economic crisis. Acid rain has broad economic, social and medical implications and has been called an unseen plague of the industrial age (Anon, 1984).
Acid rain or precipitation has a number of potential effects on terrestrial ecosystem including acidification of soil, altered nutrients supply, increased mobilization of aluminum and other shifts from acid sensitive to acid tolerant species of soil flora and fauna population, alters rates of decomposition of organic and nitrogen fixation (Jacobson et al, 1988). Foliar damage to crops and forests, interference with productivity process, leaching of nutrients and other substances from leaves increases or decreases in germination, depending on sensitivity of acidity. Indirect effects on agricultural crops include fertilization by nitrate and sulphate promoting growth (Yang, 1989).
Acid rain’s acid level is measured using pH scale (a 1-14, number scale) 1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. A 7.0 is either acidic or alkaline, being known as distilled water and considered neutral, Whereas on an average, a normal pH level for acid precipitation is around 5.6 (Monica, 2013).
Effects of Acid Rain on Environment
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Acid rain generally is a rain or any other form of precipitation that is usually acid. Presently, acid rain has generated a lot of problems in Eket local government area. It has been observed by the researcher that acid rain leads to pollution of freshwater and soil, causing paint to peel, corrosion of steel structure and weathering of building and statues. Other effects as observed by the researcher which he attributed to acid rain include damage of plant tissue (especially roof and foliage). Noctic spot on leaf blade resulting in sudden falling off of leaves and subsequent death of plants. As a result of environmental impacts associated with acid rain, the researcher therefore decided to carry out this research work on the effect of acid rain in Eket Local Government Area, which is the major oil producing community in Nigeria.