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With Explore the Planets, investigate the planets, their moons, and understand the processes that shape them. By G. Jeffrey Taylor, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
Here are four different ways chemists use to show a molecule of sulfuric acid. In the colored molecule models, sulfur is yellow, oxygen is red, and hydrogen is white.
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Windows to the Universe original artwork by Randy Russell.

Sulfuric Acid - H2SO4

Sulfuric acid is a very common type of acid. Acid rain has sulfuric acid in it. Acid rain harms plants, fish, and other living things.

A type of air pollution causes acid rain. When people burn fossil fuels like oil and coal, the smoke has a chemical in it called sulfur dioxide. When the sulfur dioxide gas comes into contact with water droplets in the atmosphere, it changes into sulfuric acid. This is one of the ways acid rain forms. Volcanoes also give off sulfur dioxide gas.

Sulfuric acid isn't all bad, though. People use this acid in lots of ways. Batteries in cars have sulfuric acid in them. Some drain cleaners do too. Humans make more than 100 million tons of sulfuric acid each year!

The hot atmosphere of the planet Venus has sulfuric acid in it. That makes it really hard to build spacecraft that can last very long in the atmosphere of Venus.

Last modified February 3, 2006 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA