explain any two roles played by pH levels of various chemicals in living organisms
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Effect on Flora
Acid rain is particularly harmful to trees and other plants. Acid rain adds aluminum to the soil and destroys important nutrients. As a result, trees and plants are less able to absorb the ground water they need for growth. Additionally, acid rain generally damages plant health, making them less resistant to insect damage and disease. Acidic water similarly affects aquatic plant life, destroying important food sources.
Effects on Microorganisms
In addition to the direct effects on fish, acid water also destroys ecosystems by killing organisms lower on the food chain. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection found that mayflies are particularly vulnerable to acidic water, because it lowers sodium in the blood. Consequently, species feeding on mayflies will leave an affected area or starve.
Effects on fishes
Harmful effects become noticeable when the pH of water falls below 5.0 or rise above 9.6. Ill effects due to acidification are more pronounced in saltwater fish due to their adaptation to a higher pH. When pH is below optimal levels, fish become susceptible to fungal infections and other physical damage ¹⁶. As the pH of water falls, the solubility of calcium carbonate is reduced, inhibiting shell growth in aquatic organisms ¹⁶. In general, fish reproduction is affected at pH levels below 5.0 and many species (such as saltwater fish or sensitive freshwater fish like smallmouth bass) will leave the area ²¹. Fish begin to die when pH falls below 4.0 ¹².
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pH is an important quantity that reflects the chemical conditions of a solution. The pH can control the availability of nutrients, biological functions, microbial activity, and the behavior of chemicals. Because of this, monitoring or controlling the pH of soil, water, and food or beverage products is important for a wide variety of applications.
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