Geology Department

Environmental Geology Student Case Studies

Acid Rain in the Adirondacks
by Brianne Goodman & Josh Rapaport

Robert Angus Smith, an English chemist, first used the phrase "acid rain" in 1852 when he noted the connection between London's polluted skies and the acidity of its rainfall. Most Scientists agree that "normal" rainfall has a pH of 5.6. Rain in the atmosphere reacts with carbon dioxide (CO2) to form a weak carbonic acid, altering the rain pH to 5.6. Acid rain is defined as any form of wet precipitation - fog, dew, snow, hail or rain - which has a pH less than 5.6 (on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral).
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