pH is a measure of how acidic/basic water is. The range goes from 0 - 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base. pH is really a measure of the relative amount of free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in the water. Water that has more fre
pH is a measure of how acidic/basic water is. The range goes from 0 - 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base. pH is really a measure of the relative amount of free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in the water. Water that has more free hydrogen ions is acidic, whereas water that has more free hydroxyl ions is basic. Since pH can be affected by chemicals in the water, pH is an important indicator of water that is changing chemically. pH is reported in "logarithmic units". Each number represents a 10-fold change in the acidity/basicness of the water. Water with a pH of five is ten times more acidic than water having a pH of six.
Importance of pH
The pH of water determines the solubility (amount that can be dissolved in the water) and biological availability (amount that can be utilized by aquatic life) of chemical constituents such as nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon) and heavy metals (lead, copper, cadmium, etc.). For example, in addition to affecting how much and what form of phosphorus is most abundant in the water, pH also determines whether aquatic life can use it. In the case of heavy metals, the degree to which they are soluble determines their toxicity. Metals tend to be more toxic at lower pH because they are more soluble. (Source: A Citizen's Guide to Understanding and Monitoring Lakes and Streams)
Diagram of pH
As this diagram shows, pH ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs less than 7 are acidic while pHs greater than 7 are alkaline (basic). Normal rainfall has a pH of about 5.6-slightly acidic due to carbon dioxide gas from the atmosphere. You can see that acid rain can be very acidic, and it can affect the environment in a negative way.
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