When you think of acid, you may think about toxic burns and chemicals. But when it comes to rain, acid rain is not what you would expect. Continue reading to learn more about acid rain, including whether or not it is safe to drink.
Acid rain, also referred to as acid deposition, is made acidic as a result of atmospheric pollution exposure. Some atmospheric pollution is caused by natural sources, such as volcanoes. Additional causes include vehicles, heavy equipment, manufacturing, oil refining, and other industries.
But the most common cause for this type of atmospheric pollution is industrial burning of coal and other fossil fuels to generate electricity, which produce waste gases that contain harmful sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX). When these sulfur and nitrogen oxides combine with the water and oxygen in the air, it forms acids.
What is Acid Deposition?
Water acidity and alkalinity is represented as a pH value, which is measured on scale that ranges from 0 to 14, with 14 being most alkaline, 7 being neutral, and 0 being most acidic. Rain is considered “acid rain” when it has a pH level between 4.2 and 4.4.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), acid deposition can include rain, snow, fog, hail, and even dust. At high levels, it can be damaging to plants, landscapes, and the environment as a whole. But in moderation, acid deposition is nothing to be concerned about.
You see, most regular rain has an average pH of 5.6, making it slightly acidic. This is a result of water and carbon dioxide reacting to one another in the air, and it is not dangerous to humans, living organisms, nor plants. After all, if you think about it, drinking water does not usually have a neutral pH value since it retains dissolved mineral content. This means that most acid rain is probably safe to drink, although it is not recommended.
Drinking Rain Water
In terms of drinking rain water, you can do so safely if you boil it and filter it, first. Boiling rain water will remove any harmful pathogens, while filtering it will eliminate additional unwanted impurities, such as chemicals, dust, pollen, mold, and other contaminants.
When collecting rain water for drinking purposes, it is best to collect it directly from the sky into a clean barrel or bucket. Just be sure to position your collection barrel so that it is not in the way of tree branches and other structures that it may drip off. Also, let the water to sit for at least 1 hour to allow the heavy particulates to settle at the bottom.