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Petroleum and dinosaur bones are examples of fossil materials that no longer have carbon-14 remaining in them.Radiocarbon dating is applicable to biobased content measurements in manufactured products because they contain some combination of recently living materials and fossil materials.

Although carbon-14 is radioactively decaying away in the body, it is constantly being replaced by new photosynthesis or the ingestion of food, leaving the amount relatively constant.When a plant stops assimilating carbon dioxide or when an animal or human being stops eating, the ingestion of carbon-14 also stops and the equilibrium is disrupted.This leaves the amount in the air relatively constant.Radiocarbon immediately reacts with oxygen in the air to form carbon dioxide (CO2).Carbon-14 is present in all living things in minute amounts.

Since it is radioactive, it gradually fades away by radioactive decay until it is all gone.Carbon is the basis of life and is present in all living things.Radiocarbon, or carbon-14 (also written as C), is an isotope of carbon that is unstable and weakly radioactive.Living plants are active components of the overall food chain.Animals eat plants and/or other animals; humans eat plants and animals.The standard developed for this purpose is called ASTM D6866.