The History of 14C Labeling, Radiocarbon, and Its Many Uses


Labeling is a major industry in the United States, with many labeling processes available, including those for food packaging and many others. However, many other, more effective labeling options are needed for the pharmaceutical industry of which our nation owns almost half of the global market. We are also the largest producer of chemical products in the world, hiring over 800,000 in the many different areas of this industry, most predominantly pharmaceuticals. And for that reason, we have a great need for 14C labeling for these products before distribution.

14C Labeling

Many benefits exist for 14C labeling, especially in the specific materials that create the labels and the products it is used to label and package. This labeling approach sensitively assesses recrystallization rates of biogenic carbonate such as shell carbonate, within a reasonably short time period. 14C labeling provides a useful tool to examine the effects of individual factors on shell carbonate recrystallization.

Materials or Chemicals for 14C Labeling

Carbon-14, 14C, or radiocarbon, is a radioactive carbon isotope including an atomic nucleus containing 6 protons and 8 neutrons. Its presence in organic materials is the basis of the radiocarbon dating method pioneered by Willard Libby around 1946 in order to date archaeological, geological and hydrogeological samples. Even more than scientific dating, these labels are now able to use radiocarbon for the improvement of labeling processes for pharmaceutical and other products.

The Question of Radiocarbon

A fume hood sits in the laboratories where radiocarbon is used for any of a number of processes. It can date many objects as old as 62,000 years, while there are many processes that help with dating and labeling in various scientific laboratories and even the pharmaceutical industry and other chemical areas. Now, it is important to see all of the different labeling processes that are related to radiocarbon and the effect it has on either protecting products or dating historically relevant materials that have been found throughout the earth. Some of these include the following:

  • C14 radiolabeling
  • Custom radiolabeling
  • GMP quality assurance
  • ICN radiochemicals

There are other processes that may assist in the development of these materials and working in the GLP testing laboratories and other locations where 14C labeling is used. GMP standards and quality control are essential for all the processes that pass through these labs, especially to make sure that the daily processes are completed in a fair manner. With all of the radiolabeled compounds that are used, safety, cleanliness, and quality are essential to the work of any and all of these labs.

In addition to all of this, it is also important to uphold the clean room standards of the locations where radiocarbon is used. Fume hoods are required of use in these rooms, as well as annual inspection of their quality and air control, along with meeting OSHA standards.