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Labeling of bone samples with animal glue is an example of artificial contamination.
Other contaminants that may be introduced during sample collection and packaging are biocides, conservation chemicals like polyvinyl acetate and polyethylene glycol, cigarette ash, and labels and wrappers that are made of paper.
There are two types of pretreatment usually applied to samples for carbon dating—physical and chemical.
The physical pretreatment of samples for radiocarbon dating is generally done by removing contaminants without the use of chemicals followed by the reduction in sample size.
The effect of these organic acids on the sample, whether they would make the sample older or younger, depends on the age of their original organism.
There is no standard method for pretreatment applicable to all samples for radiocarbon dating.The pretreatment method employed depends on the type of sample and the possible contaminants.Radiocarbon dating labs must therefore be informed of the environmental conditions and preservation techniques done to the sample before carbon-14 analysis.It must be noted that radiocarbon dating is only applicable to materials that were once part of a living organism.Bones, shells, wood, charcoal, peat, linen, wool, and parchment are the common materials submitted for radiocarbon testing.
Natural contamination pertains to the introduction of contaminants to the sample by its surrounding material.