THE PHYSIO CHEMICAL PROPERTIES OF RAIN WATER
Acid rain has become a phenomenon that draws a lot of attention. Even recently, there was a panic in the country and in the world at large as forcast was made of deadly dangers associated with acid rain. The prediction was that the initial or first would be acidic. The U.S department of energy estimates that since 1960, there have been more than four thousand (>4000) oil spills, discharging several millions barrels of crude oil into the ponds, ditches, creeks, beaches, streams and rivers in Nigeria especially in the Niger Delta. These have impacted negatively on the environment, economic life and health of the people.
Onitsha as a case study is a commercial urban city with a very dense population, a lot of industries (including small scale, medium and large scale industries) and also a high use of gasoline generators in homes, offices, churches, schools and industries. Because of the unstable supply and the demanding nature of power (energy) in all establishments, the use of gasoline generators becomes inevitable which has led to extensive gas flare. The smoke that comes out of the gas flare does not just contain sooty grey particles but also many invisible gases that can be very harmful to our environment. These gases (especially nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide) react with the tiny droplets of water in clouds to form sulfuric and nitric acids. The rain from these clouds then falls as acid rain. Natural process such as bacterial action on soils, forest fires and lightening can contribute significantly to the high value of this acid forming gas in the atmosphere e.g HCO3-. Actually, all rain tends to be acidic because of the equilibration of water with atmospheric carbon dioxide, yielding a pH of 5.6 – 6.5, then precipitated with a pH below 5.0 as a result of significant anthropogenic contribution of pollutants mainly sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.