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ABSTRACT

Marine aerosols often have sulfur-to-chloride ratios greater than that found in seawater. Sulfur isotope ratios (34S/32S) were measured in aerosol and cloud droplet samples collected in the San Francisco Bay Area in an attempt to understand the processes that produce the observed sulfur-to-chloride ratios. Seawater sulfur usually has very high sulfur isotope ratios; fossil fuel sulfur tends to have smaller isotope ratios and sulfur of bacteriogenic origin still smaller. Samples collected in unpolluted marine air over the hills south of San Francisco had sulfur isotope ratios that were significantly lower than the values for samples collected in nearby areas that were subject to urban pollution. The highest sulfur isotope ratios were found in the offshore seawater. The results suggest bacteriogenic origins of the marine air sulfur aerosol material. The low isotope ratios in the marine air cannot be explained as a mixture of seawater sulfur and pollutant sulfur, because both tend to have higher isotope ratios.