All the people whose tissues were tested for the study were residents of the United States.
Atmospheric dispersion tends to create uniform levels of carbon-14 around the globe, and researchers believe that these would be reflected in human tissues regardless of location.
Over the past six decades, the amount of radiocarbon in people or their remains depends heavily on when they were born or, more precisely, when their tissues were formed.
Forensic anthropologists at The University of Arizona took advantage of this fact in a recent study funded by NIJ.
The researchers found that year-of-death determinations based on nails were accurate to within three years.
The generally poor post-mortem preservation of soft tissues would be a limiting factor to this approach.
The researchers found that certain soft tissues — notably blood, nails and hair — had radiocarbon levels identical to the contemporary atmosphere.
Therefore, the radiocarbon level in those tissues post-mortem would indicate the year of death.
This article will answer several of the most common creationist attacks on carbon-14 dating, using the question-answer format that has proved so useful to lecturers and debaters. Answer: Cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere are constantly converting the isotope nitrogen-14 (N-14) into carbon-14 (C-14 or radiocarbon).Now, new applications for the technique are emerging in forensics, thanks to research funded by NIJ and other organizations.In recent years, forensic scientists have started to apply carbon-14 dating to cases in which law enforcement agencies hope to find out the age of a skeleton or other unidentified human remains.Unlike tooth enamel, soft tissues are constantly being made and remade during life.Thus, their radiocarbon levels mirror those in the changing environment.