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Safety issues of carbon dating

Before deciding on using carbon dating as an analytical method, an archaeologist must first make sure that the results of radiocarbon dating after calibration can provide the needed answers to the archaeological questions asked.

The proportion of carbon 14 in the sample examined provides an indication of the time elapsed since death of the sample’s source.

Radiocarbon dating results are reported in uncalibrated years BP (Before Present), where BP is defined as AD 1950.

Calibration is then done to convert BP years into calendar years.

This information is then related to true historical dates.

Other potential contaminants include paper, cardboard, cotton wool, string, and cigarette ash.

Samples must be stored in packaging materials that will protect them during transport and even during prolonged storage.

Decay of carbon 14 takes thousands of years, and it is this wonder of nature that forms the basis of radiocarbon dating and made this carbon 14 analysis a powerful tool in revealing the past.