Primary Sulfates in Atmospheric Sulfates: Estimation by Oxygen Isotope Ratio Measurements

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Science  02 Jul 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4554, pp. 51-53
DOI: 10.1126/science.217.4554.51


The relative amounts of primary and secondary sulfates in atmospheric aerosols and precipitation can be estimated from measurements of the stable oxygen isotope ratios. The oxygen-18 content of sulfates formed in power plant stack gases before emission into the atmosphere is significantly higher than that of sulfates formed from sulfur dioxide after emission. Results show that 20 to 30 percent of the sulfates in rain and snow at Argonne, Illinois, are of primary origin.