Beta Analytic – Why We Don’t Accept Samples with Tracer Carbon-14

ISO/IEC 17025:2017-accredited Beta Analytic is a tracer-free laboratory. We do not accept pharmaceutical samples with “tracer Carbon-14” and other materials containing artificial Carbon-14, in order to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination. Samples that have been artificially enhanced with Carbon-12, Carbon-13 or any other isotope are also not accepted for analysis as they may cause damage to the lab’s equipment. This policy is part of our commitment to provide high-quality results to all our clients.

Pharmaceutical companies evaluate drug metabolism by using a radiolabeled version of the drug under investigation. AMS biomedical laboratories use Carbon-14 as a tracer because it can easily substitute Carbon-12 atoms in the drug molecule and it is relatively safe to handle. However, since the artificial Carbon-14 used in these studies is phenomenally high (enormous) relative to natural levels and once used in an AMS laboratory becomes ubiquitous, cross-contamination within the AMS and the chemistry lines cannot be avoided. Although this may be acceptable in a biomedical AMS facility, it is not acceptable in a radiocarbon dating facility.

Take advantage of our expertise:

– Beta Analytic was one of the key developers of the ASTM D6866 method and has served as technical adviser​​ ​to all the major biobased ​standardization initiatives worldwide including the European methods CEN 16137 and EN 15440.

– Since 1979, ISO/IEC 17025:2017-accredited Beta Analytic ​has been​ the world leader in Carbon-14 ​​measurements.

– Beta Analytic has unparalleled expertise with complex biobased samples.

No Exposure to Artificial Carbon-14

According to ASTM International, the ASTM D6866 standard is applicable to laboratories working without exposure to artificial carbon-14 routinely used in biomedical studies. Artificial carbon-14 can exist within the laboratory at levels 1,000 times or more than 100 % biobased materials and 100,000 times more than 1% biobased materials. Once in the laboratory, artificial 14C can become undetectably ubiquitous on materials and other surfaces but which may randomly contaminate an unknown sample producing inaccurately high biobased results. Despite vigorous attempts to clean up contaminating artificial 14C from a laboratory, isolation has proven to be the only successful method of avoidance. Completely separate chemical laboratories and extreme measures for detection validation are required from laboratories exposed to artificial 14C. Accepted requirements are:

(1) disclosure to clients that the laboratory working with their products and materials also works with artificial 14C
(2) chemical laboratories in separate buildings for the handling of artificial 14C and biobased samples
(3) separate personnel who do not enter the buildings of the other
(4) no sharing of common areas such as lunch rooms and offices
(5) no sharing of supplies or chemicals between the two
(6) quasi-simultaneous quality assurance measurements within the detector validating the absence of contamination within the detector itself.

Fast service with no subcontractors

We do not subcontract work to other labs. Our policy is to have direct contact with our clients, maintain complete chain of custody in quality control, use our own AMS machines, and have a complete working knowledge of each analysis to best answer questions once results are available.

We are able to offer such rapid service because all analyses are done in-house; we have multiple accelerators and a dedicated full-time staff of technicians and scientists working overtime, if necessary, to meet the promised delivery times.

For inquiries, please email us at or call +(1) 305-662-7760.

Beta Analytic clients who submit samples with artificial/labeled/tracer Carbon-14 will be liable for the damage and clean-up costs as per our Terms and Conditions of Services


ASTM D6866 – Standard Test Methods for Determining the Biobased Content of Solid, Liquid, and Gaseous Samples Using Radiocarbon Analysis.

Memory effects in an AMS system: Catastrophe and Recovery. J. S. Vogel, J.R. Southon, D.E. Nelson. Radiocarbon, Vol 32, No. 1, 1990, p. 81-83 doi:10.2458/azu_js_rc.32.1252 (Open Access)

Recovery from tracer contamination in AMS sample preparation. A. J. T. Jull, D. J. Donahue, L. J. Toolin. Radiocarbon, Vol. 32, No.1, 1990, p. 84-85 doi:10.2458/azu_js_rc.32.1253 (Open Access)

Prevention and removal of elevated radiocarbon contamination in the LLNL/CAMS natural radiocarbon sample preparation laboratory. Zermeño, et. al. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms Vol. 223-224, 2004, p. 293-297 doi: 10.1016/j.nimb.2004.04.058

High level 14C contamination and recovery at XI’AN AMS center. Zhou, et. al. Radiocarbon, Vol 54, No. 2, 2012, p. 187-193 doi:10.2458/azu_js_rc.54.16045

Last Updated: March 2022