What causes smell after rainfall?« Back to Questions List

All of us might have experienced a pleasant smell after rainfall. You might be surprised to know that the actual reason behind this smell is caused by bacteria. Actinomycetes’ is a type of filamentous bacteria that grow in soil when it is damp and warm. It is very common and can be found in areas all over the world. When the soil dries out, the bacteria produces spores in the soil. These spores are the reason for the smell we breathe in after the rain. Rainfall kicks these tiny spores up into the air, the moisture after the rain acts as air freshener carrying the earthy smell around. Since the bacteria thrives in moist soil but releases the spores once the soil dries out, the smell is most acute after a rain that follows a dry spell.

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Rain might sometimes kick unpleasant smells too. This sort of smell is due to the acidic nature of rain. As there are chemicals in the air, rainwater could be acidic especially in cities where pollution is high. When rain comes in contact with garbage, organic wastes or chemicals on the ground, it causes unpleasant smell. It breaks apart soil and releases minerals trapped inside, and it reacts with chemicals, such as gasoline, giving them a stronger smell.


smell after rainfall


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