Replacement Rates for Human Tissue from Atmospheric Radiocarbon

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Science  27 Nov 1964:
Vol. 146, Issue 3648, pp. 1170-1172
DOI: 10.1126/science.146.3648.1170


Carbon-14, derived from the testing of thermonuclear weapons in the atmosphere of the Northern Hemisphere during 1961-62, has been found in human tissues including the brain in amounts which reflect the atmospheric concentration of carbon-14 as of several months earlier. In collagen of cartilage, the rate of uptake of carbon-14 is much slower than in other tissues; essentially no radioactive carbon was found in the collagen of 70-year-old adults that had been exposed to the comparatively high concentrations of carbon-14 in the atmosphere during the years 1954 to 1964. Individuals from the Southern Hemisphere show little increase in the carbon-14 content of their tissues at present, and detailed tests with individuals traveling to the Northern Hemisphere from the Southern allow closer scrutiny of the tissue replacement rates.