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Effects on Architecture

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 10 months ago

Many statues and buildings can be affected by acid rain.


A statue that has been exposed to acid rain




Acid rain has profound effects on architecture and statues. As you can see in the photo above, continuous exposure to acid rain causes statues the disintigrate. What causes the unfortunate weathering of these statues? The answer lies in the chemcal reaction that happens between acid rain and limestone.


Acid rain undergoes a series of chemical and physical changes when it falls to the earth. These changes can lessen the acidity of the rain; this is called neutralization. Alkaline and basic soils, particulalry soils that are rich in limestone or calcium carbonate, can help to neutralize the acididy directly. The reason why acid reacts so violently with limestone, is due to the chemical reaction. (elmhurst)


Limestone: CaCO3 + H2SO4---> CaSO4 + H2CO3


H2CO3---> CO2 gas +H2O


The sulfuric acid reacts with limestone in a neutralization reaction. The calcium sulfate that is produced in the reaction is soluable in water. This causes the limestone to dissolve and crumble. In this reaction, the original acid converts to water. (elmhurst.com) This reaction is similar to the reaction that happens when acid rain reacts with limestone in natural surroundings. When there is less calcium carbonate in a region, acid rain tends to affect this area more heavily than in an area where limestone or marble is part of the environment.


Acid precipitation affects stone in two different ways: dissolution and alteration. When sulfurous, sulfuric, and nitric acids in air react with calcite in marble and limestone, the calcite disolves. We see this on surfaces that are rough and loss of carved details. Limestone and marble buildings sometimes show blackened crusts that have peeled off to reveal crumbling stone beneath it. (pubs.ugs) This black crust is called "gypsum". Gypsum is a mineral that forms from the reaction between calcite, water and sulfuric acid. Gypsum is soluable in water, and it can form anywhere on carbonate stone surfaces that have come into contact with sulfur dioxide gas. It is usually washed away with time. It remains in places that are not directly exposed to rain. Gypsum is white, but crystals form networks that trap particles of dirt and other pollutants, so the crust has a black appearance. (pubs.ugs)


a picutre of gypsum with dirt and pollution particles trapped by the network


Many buildings have also been destroyed because of this destructive element, but more important than the buildings acid rain destroys, environmentalists are becoming more concerned for human health. This rain has the acidity to wear away the surfaces of buildings, but this has become an increasing problem. Researchers have recorded showers in Japan that have the acidity of vinegar. Indicating that the already problematic nature of acid rain is getting worse. (bbc.co)


A building that has been exposed to acid rain. The detailing on the sides of this structure have gradually been worn away by continual exposure to acid rain.














Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 5:58 am on May 20, 2006

Your picture is very effective. You may be able to find a "before" and "after" photo of the same statue.

It would be good to relate the reaction of CaCO3 to the neutralization that happens in some lakes and not others, depending on if there is CaCO3 in the surrounding rock. This would be a nice connection to your "living things" page. Also, can you include what types of statues and building materials are most effected by acid rain? Marble and limestone are CaCO3. What about other materials used in statues or buildings? Can you find some building pictures or examples, also?

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