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Effect of Acid Rain on Dissolved Oxygen Concentration

based on 7 ratings
Author: Christine Ryder Combs
Difficulty of Project

Hard

Grade Level

High School

Cost (Approximate Cost)

$30-$200

Safety Issues

This project should be supervised by a qualified scientist because corrosive chemicals will be handled in this experiment.

Material Availability

The project requires the use of dilute nitric acid and dissolved oxygen probes. Venire and Pasco can be purchased online through their catalogs. Alternative dissolved oxygen sensors can be purchased from local pet stores that specialize in the sale of fish. Nitric acid can be located in the chemical store room of most laboratories.

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

2-5 Weeks

Objective

This project investigates the relationship between acid rain and the dissolved oxygen concentration of water.

The goals of the project include simulating the environment of a pond by filling a fish tank with water and planting some underwater plants such as alfalfa inside the tank.

Materials and Equipment

Dissolved oxygen sensor/probe Fish tank pH paper/probe

Introduction

Acid rain across the country is responsible for weathering of rocks, statues, and facades of buildings. Since the early 1980s, scientists have initiated lengthy investigations to understand the cause and affects of acid rain. Acid rain is caused by the release of nitric oxides and sulfur oxides into the atmosphere as exhaust fumes from automobiles and the burning of rubber in factories releases these substances in to the air. Nitric oxides and sulfur oxides dissolve in water to form weak acids and precipitate to form weak acids and precipitate as acid rain. The slightly acidic rain depletes nutrients from soil and is responsible for the death of fish. This investigation explores the correlation between acid rain and dissolved oxygen concentration in a pond to determine if a relationship exists between the two. If acid rain directly affects dissolved oxygen concentration, life dependent on oxygen in a pond will be negatively affected by acid rain and solutions/methods to replace the oxygen in ponds affected by acid rains could be put in place to reduce the impact of acid rain.

Research Questions

  • What is acid rain?
  • What are the causes of acid rain?
  • What are the effects of acid rain?
  • What are scientists doing to reduce acid rain?
  • What is the affect of acid rain as the rain water permeates soil?
  • How does acid rain affect the nutrient concentration of soil?

Research Terms

Acid rain Biogeochemical cycles Leaching Nitrogen cycle Oxides Permeability Runoff Water cycle The diagram illustrates part of the water cycle that is affected by the release of sulfur oxides and nitric oxides.

Experimental Procedure

  1. Prepare a 1 molar solution of nitric oxide by measuring 63 grams of nitric oxide and diluting it in 1000 mL of water.
  2. Prepare a 0.1 molar solution of nitric oxide by measuring 6.3 grams of nitric oxide and diluting it in 1000 mL of water.
  3. Repeat the above step to prepare a 0.01 molar solution by diluting 0.63 grams of nitric oxide and diluting it in 1000 mL of water.
  4. Repeat the above step to prepare a 0.001 molar solution by diluting 0.063 grams of nitric oxide and diluting it in 1000 mL of water.
  5. Fill a large 10 gallon fish tank with water.
  6. Measure dissolved oxygen concentration of the water in the fish tank and measures the pH of the fish tank.
  7. Titrate 50 mL of 1 molar nitric oxide with water to identify the volume of nitric oxide required to decrease the pH of the water sample.
  8. Add 1 molar nitric oxide to the fish tank. Add less than the volume of nitric oxide required to lower the pH of the fish tank, but enough nitric oxide that is below the volume required to change the pH.
  9. Measure the pH of the fish tank to ensure, the pH is not changed.
  10. Titrate 50 mL of 0.1 molar nitric oxide with water from the fish tank to identify the volume of nitric oxide required to decrease the pH of the water sample.
  11. Add 0.1 molar nitric oxide to the fish tank. Add less than the volume of nitric oxide required to lower the pH of the fish tank, but enough nitric oxide that is below the volume required to change the pH.
  12. Measure the pH of the fish tank to ensure, the pH is not changed.
  13. Record the dissolved oxygen concentration.
  14. Titrate 50 mL of 0.01 molar nitric oxide with water from the fish tank to identify the volume of nitric oxide required to decrease the pH of the water sample.
  15. Add 0.01 molar nitric oxide to the fish tank. Add less than the volume of nitric oxide required to lower the pH of the fish tank, but enough nitric oxide that is below the volume required to change the pH.
  16. Measure the pH of the fish tank to ensure, the pH is not changed.
  17. Record the dissolved oxygen concentration.
  18. Titrate 50 mL of 0.001 molar nitric oxide with water from the fish tank to identify the volume of nitric oxide required to decrease the pH of the water sample.
  19. Add 0.001 molar nitric oxide to the fish tank. Add less than the volume of nitric oxide required to lower the pH of the fish tank, but enough nitric oxide that is below the volume required to change the pH.
  20. Measure the pH of the fish tank to ensure, the pH is not changed.
  21. Record the dissolved oxygen concentration.
  22. Using the dissolved oxygen concentrations measured; create a line graph to compare the molar concentration of nitric oxide added to the fish tank and the dissolved oxygen concentration following the addition of different concentrations of nitric oxide.

Bibliography

  1. http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/
  2. What is Acid Rain and What Causes It? Adapted from "Acid Rain", Environmental Protection Agency, August 6th, 2002
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