Acid rain (2002)
Tracking the level of acid in the atmosphere before it becomes an environmental problem.
[Camera shows images of a kaleidoscope of colours revolving and text appears consecutively: healthy country, winning industries, know how, science, technology and then resolves into text ‘sci files]
[Image changes to show a chimney pouring out smoke and then images flash through of vehicles spewing out gases]
[Image changes back to base of a chimney and camera moves up the chimney to the smokestack]
Narrator: Every day of the year, industry and motor vehicles spew out gases, which when hit by the sunlight, change into acids. The acids collect on clouds and when it rains, come straight down onto us.
[Image changes to show Dr. Greg Ayers then camera zooms in on Dr. Greg Ayers hands pouring acid over a dish of marble chips and dissolving the marble chips]
Dr. Greg Ayers: Marble is a common building material, and what we have here is marble chips. I’m going to add some acidity here. About ten times more acid than the most acid rainwater. But you can see immediately that the acid attacks the marble and starts to dissolve it.
[Image changes to show Dr. Greg Ayres collecting rain samples and measuring their PH levels]
Narrator: It’s not what you’d want in your cup of coffee, so Dr. Greg Ayers from Australia’s science agency, CSIRO, is collecting samples of rain and measuring them for acidity.
[Images flash through of the instruments being used to measure the acidity levels in rainwater and other liquids]
Ph is measured from Zero to fourteen. Tap water is neutral at seven. On the alkaline side, seawater is around eight and at the acidic end Orange juice and soft drinks are around PH two or three. Unpolluted rainwater should measure at around PH five and any measurement under five would be considered Acid Rain.
[Image changes to show a house roof and then the camera pans over the city]
As Australia is sparsely populated, its cities are far apart and it has no neighbours, the readings are not very high.
[Image changes to show a smelter and then the camera zooms in on the chimneys spewing out smoke]
In areas where there are smelters and power stations however, the problem of acid rain is far greater.
[Image changes to show Dr. Greg Ayers, CSIRO]
[Image changes to show a forest and the camera pans over the landscape]
Dr. Greg Ayers: The major effects are on forests and rivers and lakes, where the acid rain causes the soil or water to be so acidified that trees won’t grow and in fact they can even die completely and rivers and lakes they can become so acidified that they won’t support any form of aquatic life.
[Image changes back to show chimneys spewing out smoke]
Narrator: CSIRO is working with Australian industry to help accurately and inexpensively track the spread and levels of acidic particles, before they become a health or environmental hazard.
[Image changes to show the CSIRO logo and colours swirling over the screen and resolving into the text sci files]