How Do Lead-Free (Pb-Free) Aprons Stop Radiation Compared to Standard Lead

Lead-free aprons are growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional lead aprons and it’s no wonder why. Pb-free aprons are significantly more comfortable to wear and deliver nearly identical X-ray protection.

But are the advantages of lead-free aprons significant enough to justify the higher price tag?

This blog post answers that question and introduces you to what lead-free aprons are, their pros and cons, and how they compare to lead aprons in radiation stopping power.

What Is a Lead-Free Apron?

For decades, lead has served as the go-to material for radiation protection garments, including aprons, skirts, vests, and collars. But while lead is effective at stopping scatter radiation, it delivers an unfortunate number of disadvantages, including:

  • Lead is inflexible and cumbersome to wear.
  • Lead aprons are heavy and contribute to musculoskeletal defects in physicians.
  • Lead is a toxic material.

In response to these negative attributes, medical manufacturing companies, like Barrier Technologies, took action in the 1990s and began exploring Pb-free material alternatives.

After years of invention and development, the result is an attenuation material that is significantly lighter than lead, is comfortable to wear, and is not toxic.

At Barrier Technologies, our lead-free aprons are made from a Bismuth-based amalgamation of different alloys, including titanium, magnesium, and tungsten. Because all these materials have a smaller atomic weight than lead, we’re able to manufacture radiation protection aprons that are 30% lighter than their lead counterparts.

Lead-Free X-Ray Aprons vs. Lead Aprons

Lead-free aprons sound like a great idea, but how do they compare to lead aprons in attenuation? And what are the potential disadvantages of lead-free aprons? Let’s answer these questions now.

Attenuation Difference Between Lead & Lead-Free Aprons

Fortunately for the backs and shoulders of radiologists and technicians, the attenuation difference between lead-free and lead aprons is usually only 1%, with lead having a tiny advantage over Pb-free options.

This means you can invest in lead-free aprons without feeling like you’re sacrificing your health and safety for comfort.

Weight Difference Between Lead & Lead-Free Aprons

When it comes to weight, our Pb-free aprons liberate your shoulders. As stated above, this is because the alloys used (e.g. Bismuth & titanium) have a smaller atomic weight than lead.

While the weight advantage varies a bit depending on the style of apron, the vast majority of our lead-free aprons are between 28-30% lighter than their lead equivalents.

Best Lead-Free Apron Available

What is the best Pb-free apron available? Thanks to the dedication of our engineers, the aprons manufactured here at Barrier Technologies lead the industry forward.

Not only are our aprons lighter than competitors, but they’re also equipped with new technologies that reduce the risk of HAIs and increase comfort and apron longevity. Two of these innovations include:

UltraFlex™ Antibacterial Outer Material

Instead of using porous nylon fabric as outer material, our aprons are protected by UltraFlex™ — our proprietary, antibacterial fabric that can be easily cleaned with disinfectant and is stain resistant.

When paired with our lead-free alloys, UltraFlex™ also makes aprons more comfortable to wear. This is because it’s a four-way stretch fabric. So instead of feeling stiff and heavy, your light, lead-free apron will slip on easily and feel like a gentle, broken-in pair of sneakers.

MagnaGuard™ Antibacterial Velcro-Free Closures

Studies consistently demonstrate that traditional velcro apron closures are difficult to clean and harbor dangerous pathogens like MRSA and staph. Velcro closures also result in hair pulls and break down over time, reducing the longevity of your apron investment.

In response to these problems, we’ve developed MagnaGuard™ — our proprietary, antibacterial, magnet closure system. We embed magnets in the lining of your apron, so the surface is flush with the rest of the apron and the closures easily snap together to secure the apron.

MagnaGuard™ is easy to clean, enhances the comfort of your apron, and reduces the amount of plastic being used in manufacturing.

Note: all of the aprons manufactured by Barrier Technologies, both Pb-free and lead aprons, are available with these antibacterial and comfort-enhancing technologies.

Order Your Pb-Free Aprons Today

Barrier Technologies is a leading manufacturer of lead-free aprons for radiation protection. We are committed to creating the best lead-free aprons available, which is why our engineers work closely with hospitals and industry experts to develop new and innovative solutions to radiation apparel problems.

Do you need Pb-free aprons as soon as possible? Take advantage of our line of Ready To Go (RTG) aprons.

Our RTG aprons ship within 24 hours of your order and feature lead-free attenuation material, UltraFlex™, MagnaGuard™, and can be ordered in a range of sizes, colors, and styles.

To learn more about our many protective X-ray aprons, contact us today!