Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Acid Rain

Figure from experiment 29 from Physical Science with Vernier


Acid rain is a topic of much concern in today’s world. As carbon dioxide gas, CO2, dissolves in water droplets of unpolluted air, the following reaction happens

{\text{C}}{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}}}{\text{  +  }}{{\text{H}}_{\text{2}}}{\text{O}} \to {{\text{H}}_{\text{2}}}{\text{C}}{{\text{O}}_{\text{3}}}

H2CO3 is a weak acid that causes the rain from unpolluted air to be slightly acidic.

Oxides of sulfur dissolve in water droplets to cause more serious problems. Sulfur trioxide dissolves to produce sulfuric acid, H2SO4, by the equation

{\text{S}}{{\text{O}}_{\text{3}}}{\text{  +  }}{{\text{H}}_{\text{2}}}{\text{O}} \to {{\text{H}}_{\text{2}}}{\text{S}}{{\text{O}}_{\text{4}}}

The acidity of a solution can be expressed using the pH scale, which ranges from 0 to 14. Solutions with pH above 7 are basic, solutions with pH below 7 are acidic, and a neutral solution has a pH of 7. In Part I of this experiment, you will study the effect of dissolving CO2 in distilled water, which is similar to rain water, on the pH of the water. Then in Part II, you will study the effects of dissolving sulfuric acid on the pH of different water types.


In this experiment, you will

  • Measure pH.
  • Study the effect of dissolved CO2 on the pH of distilled water.
  • Study the effect on pH of dissolving H2SO4 in various waters.
  • Learn why some bodies of water are more vulnerable to acid rain than others.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Physical Science with Vernier »

Physical Science with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Temperature Probe Response Time
2Boiling Temperature of Water
3Freezing and Melting of Water
4Evaporation of Alcohols
5Endothermic and Exothermic Reactions
6Neutralization Reactions
7Mixing Warm and Cold Water
8Heat of Fusion
9Energy Content of Fuels
10Energy Content of Foods
11Absorption of Radiant Energy
12An Insulated Cola Bottle
13A Good Sock
14Insolation Angle
15Solar Homes and Heat Sinks
16Conducting Solutions
17Conductivity of Saltwater: The Effect of Concentration
18Acid Strengths
19Frictional Forces
20First-Class Levers
22An Inclined Plane
23Reflectivity of Light
24Polarizing Light
25How Bright is the Light?
26Electromagnets: Winding Things Up
27Magnetic Field Explorations
28Household Acids and Bases
29Acid Rain
30Gas Pressure and Volume
31Gas Temperature and Pressure
32Fun with Pressure
33Lemon "Juice"
34Simple Circuits
35Graphing Your Motion
36Speeding Up
37It's Race Day
38Crash Lesson
39Newton's Second Law
40Falling Objects

Experiment 29 from Physical Science with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Physical Science with Vernier</i> book cover

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