Do you know how to do a lead apron inspection? If you are a radiologic worker, this is an essential task that you should perform diligently and regularly. Your health and safety depend on the integrity of your lead apron—even the tiniest crack could lead to your unwitting exposure to the hazardous effects of ionizing radiation. Down the line, you might develop cancer or other genetic effects that could have been entirely avoidable. Here at Barrier Technologies®, your safety is our priority. Read on to learn exactly when and how to inspect your lead apron.
When to Inspect Your Lead Apron?
Always perform an initial inspection on receipt of a new apron. After that, it should be checked at least once per year. However, if your apron experiences heavy use, it would be prudent to check it every 6 months. Many facilities have a strict schedule that should be adhered to.
Additionally, every inspection should be logged using an inspection tracking system, such as BAIMS PRO. A lead apron inspection log is important for tracking the history and lifespan of your apron. Record the results of all apron inspections according to your facility or state’s protocol.
What Lead Apron Inspection Method Should Be Used?
#1. Visual Inspection
- Spread out your apron on a clean, flat surface.
- Carefully look at every part for obvious signs of damage to the material.
- Check for any tears, holes, lumps, or bumps that may need closer scrutiny.
- Test all the apron closures, such as Velcro, buckles, etc. to ensure that they are in proper working order.
#2. Tactile Inspection
- It is easier to do this inspection with your apron hanging on an apron rack.
- Align your hands on the inner and outer covers of the apron and gently run them parallel to each other over the entire surface, inside and out.
- Gently feel for thin areas, cracks, gaps, or creases.
#3. Fluoroscopic or X-Ray Inspection
- Note that fluoroscopy takes time and subjects the operator to an additional radiation dose.
- Lay out the apron on the fluoroscopy table.
- Examine the entire item using a low manual setting (e.g. 80 kVp).
- Don’t use automatic brightness control—this will drive up the current and voltage, causing unnecessarily high radiation exposure and wear and tear on the tube.
- Any defects will show up as light areas or lines. (Note that seams and stitching will also appear light.
- If you don’t have access to a fluoroscope, you can alternatively perform an x-ray inspection.
- Lay out the apron on the x-ray table.
- Take a radiograph of any suspicious areas.
- Look for any dark slashes which indicate breaks in the lead lining.
What Is the Importance of Lead Apron Integrity Inspections?
Any lead apron that fails an integrity test should be replaced. Although there is no general standard, for 0.5mm lead, a tear longer than 5.4cm is a cause for rejection. However, smaller perforations, thinning, or cracks on the edges may also warrant rejection.
Besides broken or weak areas posing a risk of radiation exposure to the wearer, fluoroscopic or x-ray inspections can detect:
- Lead rot: Although very stable, over time lead can react with moisture, carbon dioxide, acetic acid, etc. to form toxic powdery lead salts, which can escape through the cover fabric.
- Vampire marks: These are usually caused by clipping ball-point pens or security tags to your apron.
How Frequently Should I Change My X-Ray Apron?
As long as your lead apron is kept clean, used and stored correctly, and inspected annually, it should last for many years. A well cared for lead apron could last for 5 years or longer. However, if subject to heavy use, folded, or not properly hung up when not in use, its lifespan will be significantly reduced.
It also depends on the quality of the x-ray apron—always choose the best that you can afford, both for protection and longevity. Barrier Technologies supplies the highest quality, most durable range of lead x-ray aprons, and specialized apron racks to ensure proper storage.
How Can I Tell if an Apron Has Passed or Failed Inspection?
Use the checklist to gauge if your lead apron passes inspection. If it fails any of the checklist questions, it should be taken out of service and repaired or replaced:
|LEAD APRON INSPECTION CHECKLIST
(for apron of 0.5mm lead/lead equivalent)
|Lead apron unique ID Number
|Inspection performed by:
|Date of previous inspection:
|Date of current inspection:
|Circle the answers for the following 4 questions:
|Was the apron inspected visually?
|Was the apron inspected tactilely?
|Was the apron inspected fluoroscopically?
|Was the apron inspected radiographically?
|Write YES or NO for the checklist questions:
|YES = Fail
|NO = Pass
|Are there any tears or cracks longer than 5.4cm?
|Are there any thin areas?
|Are there any perforations or cracked edges?
|Are there any defects in relation to placement near or over:
|Are there any defective closures (Velcro, buckles, ties, etc.)?
|Are there any signs of lead dust, indicating lead rot?
Q: How often should lead aprons be checked for protective integrity?
A: Your lead apparel should be thoroughly inspected at least once per year. Check your local and facility regulations for more information.
Q: Do x-ray lead aprons expire?
A: If properly cared for and maintained, your apron should last for 5 years or even longer. If subject to heavy use or mistreatment, the lifespan can be significantly reduced.
Q: How do you test a lead apron periodically?
A: First test your apron visually and tactilely. Then inspect it using a fluoroscope, if available. Alternatively, you can x-ray suspect areas.
It’s critical to your health to know how to test your lead apron for integrity. Diligent care should ensure that your apron protects you for years to come. Ensure that you conduct a lead apron inspection regularly and record the results.
It’s important to Barrier Technologies that you never compromise your safety. We offer unsurpassable quality and durability in all our lead and lead-free radiation protection apparel and accessories. Please browse our catalogs to choose the style that suits you and the important work that you do. Contact us for expert advice and more information.