Testing for Acid Rain

In view of the stinging sensation I felt when the rainwater went into my eyes, I found this acid test online:

“Pollution from power stations and car exhausts can release other harmful gases Trees killed by acid raininto the air as well as carbon dioxide. These gases can be carried long distances by the wind before they are dissolved by raindrops to form “acid rain”. When this falls to Earth, it’s acidity causes it to slowly eat away at buildings, as well as killing trees, plants and life in rivers and lakes.

This experiment can be used to test for acid in rainwater.

You will need:

* 2 red cabbage leaves – finely chopped
* distilled water (available from chemists)
* rainwater (collected from your garden)
* a bowl
* 2 glass jars
* a measuring jug
* a sieve

Place the chopped cabbage leaves into the bowl. With the help of an adult, pour hot distilled water over them, and let it stand for an hour.

Strain liquid

Use the sieve to strain the liquid from the cabbage leaves into a measuring jug. It should be a dark purple colour.
Pour liquid

Using the measuring jug, pour 20ml of distilled water into one of the glass jars. Pour 20ml of rainwater into the other.
Place into jars

Now add some of the cabbage juice into the two jars – making sure you put the same amount in each. The water will then change colour.

How does the colour of the water in the two jars compare? You should find that the distilled water stays the same, whereas the rainwater may change colour. It will turn red if the rainwater is acidic; the stronger the acid, the redder the water will become.”

I will have a go at doing this experiment later on in the week as have to go out to work now. I’d like to hear what other experiences cyclists have had.

I also find this question online – is Acid Rain drinkable? As we are encouraged to drink tap water and not bottled bottle, the whole matter of drinking water is very confusing.

“Is rain water drinkable? Is acid rain in another category than rain water?

One day when we had a heavy rain, I caught several gallons of the rain water as it was coming through our spouting. Then, I filtered it through my PUR filter cartridge system (the type that filters 1/2 gallon at a time). I’ve heard that rain water is good for drinking. However, I’ve heard about acid rain being harmful. I’m just trying to distinguish whether or not acid rain is in a different category than what I call “regular rain water”. The reason I collected rain water for drinking is: When I run my tap water through my PUR filter (which by the way does make my tap water taste better), but I found out that it does not remove the flouride that is put in our drinking water and I’ve heard that the flouride has been known to cause cancer.

Acid rain occurs mainly around heavily polluted industrial areas, when the rain absorbs the pollution. If you don’t live too close to a factory, the water you collect should be safe. You can always test the water’s Ph value with some test strips. It should be around 7. ”

Acid rain is hardly talked about now and even Treehugger comments on this:

” Acid rain was quite the buzz word in the early ’90s, along with “ozone” and “reduce, recycle, reuse, and close the loop!” And while it doesn’t get quite as much press anymore, the problem of acid rain hasn’t disappeared.”

You bet it hasn’t.


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