Lead Apron Disposal: We Can Help!

Is it time to throw away your lead apron? There are several important considerations when it comes to lead apron disposal. Lead is an excellent material for attenuating radiation. However, it’s also a devastating and persistent neurotoxin that is an extreme hazard to living organisms.

Do not simply toss your lead X-ray apron in the trash—the lead may leach out of it and contaminate the soil or groundwater. You have various choices to investigate that will ensure you dispose of your apron responsibly and with due consideration for the environment. This article will assist you in making the appropriate decision.


What Should My First Step Be?

The first requirement in the disposal of lead aprons is to familiarize yourself with the relevant legislation regarding lead, which falls under Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Congress frequently updates the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Subtitle C.  This legislation focuses on the proper identification, storage, transport, treatment, and disposal of hazardous solid waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorizes lead as a hazardous pollutant. Moreover, lead appears on the list of 126 priority chemical pollutants. Consequently, this metal is subject to the Toxic Substances Control Act, Subchapter IV.  You can read more about the EPA’s lead regulations here.

You must research specific lead disposal and waste management regulations for your locality. The legal requirements covering public health and environmental concerns vary from state to state. The EPA provides links to all the Health and Environmental Agencies of US States and Territories.

Your institution or workplace should institute a clearly defined lead apron disposal policy as part of your standard operating procedure. Action plans often detail maintenance and inspection, but neglect disposal. Generally, you may not discard any product containing lead as ordinary municipal solid waste—you must treat it as hazardous medical waste or recycle it.


How to Manage Lead Apron Disposal?

It’s crucial to monitor and inspect all lead X-ray aprons regularly. These fit-for-purpose checks entail frequent visual and tactile evaluations supplemented by annual or biannual radiographic or fluoroscopic screening. Barrier Technologies® offers our useful Barrier Track app to track your lead apron’s history from purchase to disposal. 

If your apron fails inspection and is irreparable, it has reached the end of its serviceable lifespan. It can’t adequately shield you against exposure to harmful radiation and should be taken out of circulation immediately. X-ray radiation is not the only possible danger incurred. If the lead core material is damaged, toxic lead dust might be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through your skin. Remember that if you work in a medical setting, the lead lining may not be the only biohazard—lurking hospital-acquired infections (HAI) necessitate hazardous medical waste disposal.

Investigate who undertakes lead X-ray apron disposal. Any company or facility you choose must have the proper accreditations and resources to handle lead according to the set regulations and protocols.

List of contact options:

  1. The original manufacturer or provider.
  2. X-ray accessories dealers or sales companies.
  3. Local scrap metal recyclers and reclaimers.
  4. Specialist hazardous waste companies.
  5. Your local landfill—some are geared up to accept hazardous waste.


What Are the Ways to Dispose of a Lead Apron?

The RCRA enacts “cradle-to-grave” liability for the disposal of lead aprons. This means that the generator of the waste (your practice, facility, or institution) bears ultimate responsibility for its safe disposal. This accountability isn’t discharged unless and until you can show certified, documentary proof that the disposal of medical waste happened correctly and according to regulations.

Below are three common options for where to dispose of medical waste such as your decommissioned lead aprons. In all cases, you should document the items and method of disposal with a bill of lading or similar manifest that is retained by the manager of the facility.


Option #1: A Recycling Company

  • The best bet is to find out if the original supplier has a reclamation policy. You may even receive a discount on your next lead apron purchase.
  • Contact your local scrap metal companies and recycling plants by phone or Internet. They will strip out the lead core material and melt it down to be used in new products.
  • Always ensure that the company can provide you with the necessary documentation that certifies that the lead has been handled responsibly and recovered for resale.  


Option #2: A Hazardous Waste Handling Company

  • There are hazardous waste handling companies that operate both locally and nationally.
  • They provide you with a special container to pack your retired aprons and return to them via post, collection, or courier. There is usually a 50 lb limit on these packages.
  • It’s important that you follow the packing instructions exactly, to prevent any lead dust escaping in transit.
  • You will have to pay a fee for the handling and processing needed to dispose of your hazardous waste. 


Option #3: Your Local Landfill

  • Some local landfills will accept your lead apron for disposal. However, you must call ahead to find out their intake procedures. You can’t just pitch up in the hope that they do.
  • In most instances, they won’t accept lead aprons that are badly cracked or damaged—the toxicity is too high, and the possibility of lead leaching into the environment is severe.
  • The landfill management must be able to provide you with paperwork.

Finally, it’s important to note that recycling is always a better option than discarding! There are six benefits of recycling to consider:

  1. It protects ecosystems and living organisms.
  2. It conserves natural resources.
  3. It uses less energy.
  4. It reduces carbon emissions.
  5. It saves money.
  6. It creates employment.


Manufacturing High-Quality Lead Aprons, Responsibly!

Here at Barrier Technologies, your safety is our concern. That concern extends to protecting the environment. Please dispose of your unserviceable lead aprons with due diligence and according to the required legislation.

This article covers the most appropriate methods for lead apron disposal. However, it’s worth investigating our lead-free products next time you are in the market for a new apron or other radiation-protective gear. These are lighter in weight, offer comparable lead equivalence, and are non-toxic. You can dispose of them in the regular trash!

Feel free to browse our extensive catalogs. You may contact us here for more information.