The rates of disintegration of potassium-40 and carbon-14 in the normal adult body are comparable (a few thousand disintegrated nuclei per second).
This is small compared to the doses from potassium-40 (0.39 m Sv/year) and radon (variable).
A calculation or (more accurately) a direct comparison of carbon-14 levels in a sample, with tree ring or cave-deposit carbon-14 levels of a known age, then gives the wood or animal sample age-since-formation.
Carbon-14 is produced in the upper layers of the troposphere and the stratosphere by thermal neutrons absorbed by nitrogen atoms.
The transfer between the ocean shallow layer and the large reservoir of bicarbonates in the ocean depths occurs at a limited rate.--or rather, its relative absence—is therefore used to determine the relative contribution (or mixing ratio) of fossil fuel oxidation to the total carbon dioxide in a given region of the Earth's atmosphere.
Dating a specific sample of fossilized carbonaceous material is more complicated.
Atmospheric nuclear weapon tests almost doubled the concentration of The above-ground nuclear tests that occurred in several countries between 19 (see nuclear test list) dramatically increased the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere and subsequently in the biosphere; after the tests ended, the atmospheric concentration of the isotope began to decrease.
The resulting neutrons ( but attempts to directly measure the production rate in situ were not very successful.
It is typically released to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide at BWRs, and methane at PWRs., radioactive carbon dioxide.
The gas mixes rapidly and becomes evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere (the mixing timescale in the order of weeks).
Such deposits often contain trace amounts of carbon-14.
These amounts can vary significantly between samples, ranging up to 1% of the ratio found in living organisms, a concentration comparable to an apparent age of 40,000.), or other unknown secondary sources of carbon-14 production.