Replacement Rates for Human Tissue from Atmospheric Radiocarbon

See allHide authors and affiliations

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.

Stay Connected to Science