Acid Rain Effects Acid Rain  Elmhurst College
Acid Lake Effects Effects on Forests Acid Rain Solutions  Chemistry Department
Acid Soils and Effects Effects on Buildings    Virtual ChemBook

Acid Rain Effects on Buildings

Acids have a corrosive effect on limestone or marble buildings or sculptures. It is well established that either wet or dry deposition of sulfur dioxide significantly increases the rate of corrosion on limestone, sandstone, and marble.

sulfur dioxide plus water makes sulfurous acid

SO2 + H2O --> H2SO3

sulfur trioxide plus water makes sulfuric acid

SO3 + H2O --> H2SO4

The sulfuric acid then further reacts with the limestone in a neutralization reaction.

Limestone: CaCO3 + H2SO4 --> CaSO4 + H2CO3

H2CO3 --> CO2 gas + H2O

The calcium sulfate is soluble in water and hence the limestone dissolves and crumbles.


Effects on Sculptures:

There are many examples in both the U. S. and Europe of the corrosive effects of acid rain on sculptures. Many sculptures have been destroyed, a few have been preserved by bringing them inside.


The above reactions can be simulated in a demonstration by putting an egg in vinegar. The eggshell is made from the same material as limestone - calcium carbonate. The acetic acid produces an immediate bubbling as the carbonate converts first to carbonic acid and then to carbon dioxide bubbling. Within an hour the egg shell will be dissolved.