Radiocarbon Dating Bones Contaminated with PVA

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Bones contaminated with polyvinyl acetate (PVA) require specialized pretreatment, such as solvent extractions, before radiocarbon dating. The success of the dating also varies if the bone has been soaked in PVA or if the PVA was applied in localized areas where there were cracks or breaks. If the bone has been soaked and saturated in PVA, there is usually little chance of successful dating.

Solvent Extraction for Bones

PVA is typically soluble in a number of organic solvents such as acetone, ethanol, benzene and toluene. As such, the pretreatment of PVA-covered bones would consist of physical abrasion to remove the outer surfaces of the bone, if possible, depending on the shape and size of the bone, followed by solvent extractions.

Many times conservators make “unique” mixtures of these adhesives which may contain something that the solvent extractions cannot remove. Thus, there is no perfect method for the pretreatment.

Fees for Bones Dating

For bone samples, Beta Analytic only offers AMS dating. The cost per sample for bone samples contaminated with PVA is the AMS delivery service requested + Solvent Extractions + Collagen extractions. Our AMS dating services are:

Standard Service – results reported in 14 business days or less
Priority Service – results reported in 6 business days or less

A few additional days in the quoted turn-around time might be necessary for difficult bone samples. The lab’s Time Guide service (results reported in 3 business days) doesn’t apply to bones.

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