Acid Rain vs Acid Precipitation: Difference and Comparison

The hydrological cycle is vital to keep the balance of water cycling. The water in lakes, oceans, and other reservoirs is getting evaporated mainly in the daytime.

In the atmosphere, they evaporated water, cluster, and form clouds. In the clouds, the water vapor can come back to the surface of the earth.  

It can occur in the form of precipitation whose part is rain. Acids can be described as substances that donate ions of hydrogen.

The pH is lower than 7. In this article, the chief aim is on differentiating acid rain and acid precipitation. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Acid rain specifically refers to rain with a pH lower than 5.6, while acid precipitation includes all forms of acidic precipitation, such as rain, snow, sleet, or hail.
  2. Acid rain results from releasing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere, while various pollutants, including industrial emissions and volcanic activity, can cause acid precipitation.
  3. Acid rain has a more direct impact on aquatic ecosystems, whereas acid precipitation can affect various ecosystems, including forests and soil.

Acid Rain vs Acid Precipitation 

The difference between acid rain and acid precipitation is that the United States region, namely the East Coast, comprising the northeast and the Appalachian Mountains, is significantly impacted by acid rain. On the other hand, the regions of Poland northward from Eastern Europe into Scandinavia are most harmed by acid precipitation. 

Acid Rain vs Acid Precipitation

Acid rain is rain possessing a pH of approx 5.2 or below chiefly produced from human activities. In acid-sensitive areas, this kind of rain depletes the soil of vital plant nutrients and buffers like magnesium and calcium.

It can produce aluminum bound to rock and particles and in its toxic dissolved form.  

Environmental pollution due to acid precipitation increases the mobilization and solubilization of toxic metals. By the food chain, this might alter essential toxic element’s intake man.

The adverse health effect can follow after boosted human exposure. The exposure and health effects of mercury, lead cadmium, and aluminum is of specific concern for the general population. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAcid RainAcid Precipitation
InterpretationWhen rainfall is made acidic due to a combination of nitrogen and sulfur oxide with atmosphere water.When acidity has been increased of any precipitation’s form by the acid pollutants intake from the air.
Coined byRobert Angus SmithDr. Gene E. Likens
ComprisesOnly rainSleet, fog, cloud vapour, snow, and rain
PeriodLimited to a period of the yearThroughout the year

What is Acid Rain? 

Since the 1970s, some governments have made try to reduce nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide’s release into the atmosphere.

Also Read:  Ale vs Stout: Difference and Comparison

The chief source of nitrogen and sulfur compounds that leads to acid rain are anthropogenic. Meanwhile, by volcanic eruptions, sulfur dioxide is produced.  

Also, naturally by lightning strikes nitrogen oxides can be produced. The efforts made by the government had positive results by widespread research focused on acid rain beginning in the 1960s. Also, the publicized information related to its harmful effects.  

In Europe, acid rain was systematically studied firstly in the 1960s. The corrosive polluted effect, acidic city air on marble and limestone was noted by John Evelyn in the 17th century.

He remarked on Arundel marble’s poor condition.  

Since the industrial revolution, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide’s emission into the atmosphere have got a boost. The first to show the relationship between atmospheric pollution and acid rain was Robert Angus Smith in Manchester, England. Scientists began widely studying and observing the phenomenon in the late 1960s. 

acid rain

What is Acid Precipitation? 

Acid precipitation might increase human exposure to potentially toxic metals through increasing metal concentration in man’s major pathways.

Particularly, water and food and in some instances by improving the metal specie’s conversion to more toxic forms.   

In some countries, the intakes through this route might approach the levels that result in health effects for these food items high consumption population groups.

A possible increase in fish’s methylmercury concentration affected by acid precipitation might thus be a concern to population groups selectively.  

The possibility exists that boosted lead exposure might be caused through acid precipitation by a lead mobilization from soils into crops.

An exposure route to lead that might be influenced by this is a surface material’s increased deterioration comprising lead and by small children’s subsequent ingestion.  

Human metal exposure through drinking water might be boosted by acid precipitation. The pH decreases increase water’s corrosiveness enhancing the metal salt’s mobilization from the soil.

The metallic compounds might be mobilized from minerals and might reach drinking water. 

Also Read:  Castles vs Palaces: Difference and Comparison

Main Differences Between Acid Rain and Acid Precipitation 

  1. When nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide are diffuse into the atmosphere and carried by air and water currents can be referred to as the main cause behind acid rain. In contrast, in the case of acid precipitation same acids diffuse with water vapor and condense into bigger and bigger water droplets. 
  2. The acid rain’s ecological effects are mainly seen in aquatic environments like marshes, streams, and lakes. It can affect soil by leaching aluminum from clay pieces. On the other hand, the potential impacts of acid precipitation comprise soil erosion, wildlife effect, damaged property, etc.  
  3. The effective solution which can be used to decrease acid rain are clearer fuels usage, FGD or Flue Gas Desulphurization, and use of other electricity sources. On the contrary, the important measures which can be used to control acid precipitation are using geothermal energy, solar energy, and using more methodical devices.  
  4. Both acid rain and acid precipitation still occur but far less amount compared to the 1970s and ’80s. According to NSWS of US, it was founded that lakes are affected by 75 percent and about half the screen. Meanwhile, acid precipitation has resulted approx 550 premature deaths per year.  
  5. Places significantly impacted by acid rain include the region of the United States, namely the East Coast, comprising the northeast and the Appalachian Mountains. On the flip side, the regions most harmed by acid precipitation are Poland northward from Eastern Europe into Scandinavia. 
Difference Between Acid Rain and Acid Precipitation



Last Updated : 20 July, 2023

dot 1
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

Leave a Comment

Want to save this article for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own articles box!