How Acidic Is Your Rain?
ES1807  Ammonia and Acid Rain

While sulfate and nitrate ions in the atmosphere contribute to increased levels of acidity in rainwater, other chemicals (called bases) can counteract these acids. The most common base found in the atmosphere is the ammonium ion.


Ammonium ions can be introduced into the atmosphere from industrial burning or agriculture. When combined with water, ammonia (either produced naturally by many plants or added to agricultural fields by humans for fertilizing) is converted to ammonium ions. In dry areas, the ammonium ions can then escape into the atmosphere.

9. What might account for high ammonium ion (NH4+) concentrations in the central portion of the United States?


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