The Effect of Potting Soil, Peat Moss, and Top Soil on the Neutralization of Sulfuric Acid

The purpose of this experiment was to test if the type of soil would affect the neutralization of acid rain after the acid had passed through the soil.  Three different types of soil were tested: potting soil, peat moss, and top soil.  The independent variables were the type of soil used, and the dependent variable was the change in pH of the sulfuric acid.  Data was collected by testing the pH of the sulfuric acid (H2SO4) prior to contact with the soil.  The sulfuric acid was then allowed to sit in the soil for an allotted amount of time.  A vacuum source was used to pull the acid out of the soil to measure the final pH.  The difference of the two values was calculated.  This data was then analyzed using an ANOVA statistical test.  The initial hypothesis stated that the top soil would affect the final pH the greatest, but the ANOVA test showed that the type of soil could not be associated with a significant difference in the change in pH.  This study is relevant to applications in agriculture and environmental science, specifically how acid rain, which has both human and natural causes, is harmful to the environment.  A soil’s ability to filtrate acid (buffering capacity) is of use to cultivators who want to ensure that crops are protected from the detrimental effects of acid rain.  The damage of crops contributes to a decrease in the world food supply and inflation in the economy.

Research Done By:

Katie Conley
Centerline High School

Hayley Laird
L'anse Creuse High School