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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Influence of Sulfate, Nitrate, and Chloride in Simulated Acidic Rain on Radish Plants1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 15 No. 3, p. 301-304
    Received: June 24, 1985

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  1. J. S. Jacobson,
  2. J. J. Troiano,
  3. L. I. Heller and
  4. J. Osmeloski2



The primary objective of this research was to test the hypothesis that sulfate (SO2−4), nitrate (NO3), and chloride (Cl), as major anionic components of rain, significantly affect plant growth or modify plant response to the acidity of rain. In the first experiment, above-ground portions of greenhouse-grown radish (Raphanus sativus L.) plants were given 10 1-h exposures over a 3-week period to simulated rain containing the individual acids, sulfuric (H2SO4), nitric (HNO3), hydrochloric (HCl), or a combination of H2SO4 and HNO3 at pH vlaues between 2.6 and 5.0. A second experiment was performed using 2-h exposures on 4 consecutive days to simulated rain containing either H2SO4, HNO3, or HCl at pH values between 3.0 and 5.0. Reductions in hypocotyl growth but not shoot growth were obtained at pH 2.6 in the first experiment and at 3.0 and 3.4 in the second experiment. Both the linear and quadratic components of the dose-response function for effects of acidity on hypocotyl dry mass were significant. There were no significant effects of anions on dry mass of hypocotyls nor was there a significant acidity by anion interaction in either exposure pattern. The similarity of effects on plant growth of H2SO4, HNO3, and HCl in simulated rain suggests that differences in concentrations and ratios of SO2−4, NO3, and Cl in rain may not be important for agricultural crops. The validity of these conclusions should be tested for other species and different environmental, edaphic, and treatment conditions.

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