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Khan Academy


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Health

Resource Types

  • Videos, 7 minutes, 40 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Interactive Media
  • Assessments

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States

Acid Rain

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  • This video explains how the byproducts of fossil fuels can combine with UV radiation and water molecules to form sulfuric acid and nitric acid, the primary components of acid rain. 
  • Students will learn that acid rain can damage buildings, contaminate water sources, impact the environment, and cause respiratory problems for humans. 
  • There is also an interactive quiz available for students to test their knowledge about acid rain, pollution, and the pH scale. 
Teaching Tips


  • This video is well-paced and easy to understand.
  • It highlights the benefits that new environmental regulations had on reducing the amount of acid-forming pollution from smokestacks. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be somewhat familiar with the pH scale.
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  • Standards are available for AP Environmental Science courses.


  • Engineering and chemistry classes could research ways to reinforce buildings so that they are not susceptible to acid rain.
  • Government or civics classes could read about the EPA's Acid Rain Program on the EPA's website and discuss the role of agencies, such as the EPA, in protecting human health and the environment.
  • Other resources on this topic include this Hot Mess video on how human-caused pollutants affect the atmosphere, this interactive map from the EPA that shows the air quality in the United States, and this video on the importance of engineering in the face of climate change.
Scientist Notes
This 8-minute video describes the causes and impacts of acid rain. A brief overview of the pH scale and acids are presented, followed by a description of efforts to regulate and reduce air pollutants that cause acid rain. This resource presents plenty of detail in a clear and concise manner. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
      • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
    • PS1: Matter and its Interactions
      • HS-PS1-5 Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
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