Featured in PASCO’s College Environmental Science Instructor Guide

College Environmental Science Instructor Guide


College Instructor edition with experiments covering introductory and general environmental science topics.

Air Pollution & Acid Rain

Lab Summary

Use a pH sensor to investigate chemical reactions important in the formation of acid rain to understand the relationship between man-made emissions, acid rain, and problems arising from acid rain.


In this activity, students investigate chemical reactions that are important in the formation of acid rain to better understand the relationship between certain types of man-made (anthropogenic) emissions and problems arising from acid rain. During this investigation, students:

  • Determine the effect of different anthropogenic gases on the pH of water.
  • Discuss the effect of changes in the pH of water on the environment.


  • Sample Lab - Air Pollution and Acid Rain (753 KB – PDF)
  • Method

    Students gain experience conducting the following procedures:

    • Learning the chemical reactions involved in generating three types of gases (CO2, SO2, and NO2) that are common anthropogenic emissions.
    • Measuring the effect of CO2, SO2, and NO2 on the pH of water using a pH sensor.
    • Analyzing the chemical reactions that lower the pH of rain.

    Sensors / Equipment Used:

    PASPORT Water Quality Sensor


    Measures temperature, conductivity, pH/ISE/ORP and dissolved oxygen. It is specifically designed for convenience in conducting water quality lab experiments. For use with PASPORT Interfaces.

    Materials Used:

    1 M HCl - 15 mL
    1-hole rubber stopper for flask 
    Beaker, 40-mL 
    Erlenmeyer flask, 50-mL 
    Flexible Teflon® tubing to fit glass tubing - 20 cm
    Glass tubing for rubber stopper 
    Graduated cylinder, 50- or 100-mL 
    Graduated pipet, 4-mL and pipet bulb
    Sodium bicarbonate - 5 g
    Sodium bisulfite - 5 g
    Sodium nitrite - 5 g
    Wash bottle containing distilled or deionized water
    Water or deionized water  - 1 L

    The Associated Bundle:

    College Environmental Science Sensor Bundle


    Contains the probeware needed to perform all 26 experiments in the College Environmental Science instructor guide.

    Interface Required

    This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.