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It is vital for a radiocarbon laboratory to know the contribution to routine sample activity of non-sample radioactivity.

Obviously, this activity is additional and must be removed from calculations.

By measuring the activity of a background sample, the normal radioactivity present while a sample of unknown age is being measured can be accounted for and deducted.

In an earlier section we mentioned that the limit of the technique is about 55-60 000 years.

Much of the information presented in this section is based upon the Stuiver and Polach (1977) paper "Discussion: Reporting of C14 data". 1890 wood was chosen as the radiocarbon standard because it was growing prior to the fossil fuel effects of the industrial revolution.