Lead Apron Bacterial Contamination: The Major Problem with Traditional Lead Aprons

Traditional lead aprons are loaded with transmittable bacteria, waiting to be passed from user to user. These aprons of the past harbor millions of microbial bacteria waiting to spread around offices, waiting rooms, and labs. For more information on how bacteria infects lead aprons, and how to prevent and eliminate it, keep reading.

Do protective lead aprons harbor harmful bacteria?

The simple answer: yes. Traditional lead aprons absolutely do act as a hosting and transmission site for bacteria. Some microbes can stay on surfaces for up to two weeks, and a lead apron is no exception. Some of the diseases that can be passed around besides everyday bacteria include Ebola, Covid-19 viruses, Hepatitis, HIV, influenza viruses, etc. 

The location of most bacteria on a lead apron may be surprising. A majority is contained with the velcro closures on a traditional lead apron. Contrary to popular belief, that bacteria is stored in cracked aprons, it is actually the velcro that provides the perfect hiding spot for microbial passengers.

Since velcro is nearly impossible to fully clean, it becomes the perfect hosting location. Rather than use lead aprons with velcro closures, it is much more hygienic to wear lead aprons with magnetic closures

Major Problems with Traditional Lead Aprons

The dirty nature of velcro closures is only one of the major problems traditional lead aprons present. Some of the other problems that accompany traditional lead aprons include:

  • Deterioration of exterior apron material (cracking). Over time, the exterior of a lead apron will become worn down. As it ages the material will also begin to deteriorate. 
  • Uncomfortable weight. This is perhaps the biggest issue caused by traditional lead aprons. They are much heavier than newer aprons that use lighter materials, such as UltraFlex. Newer aprons are better for the user’s posture and overall skeletal health. 
  • Older aprons have more bacteria. With each use, bacteria gathers in the apron’s closure and on the surface.

Preventing these issues can be difficult. Lead aprons must be maintained in order to offset some of the problems they present. Proper storage and very regular cleaning are key ways to ensure lead aprons stay fully effective. 

Bacterial Contamination Risks of Lead Aprons

The risks posed by lead aprons becoming contaminated are not insignificant. They can affect the health of the user in major, and potentially irreversible, ways. 

One of the most prominent dangers of contamination is spreading infection.

Spreading infection via lead aprons

Infections, especially highly infectious diseases, can be spread like wildfire amongst staff, patients, or general users by lead aprons. Lead aprons are commonly worn during sensitive procedures, such as surgeries, when the environment needs to be carefully contained and sterilized.

Some diseases are airborne, so even if the aprons are kept physically separated from other protective equipment, they should always be thoroughly cleaned. Being stored in a dirty or exposed area means contaminated aprons.

Lead Aprons Maintenance and Management

Proper maintenance of lead aprons is the most effective way to extend their lifetime and reduce any contamination. Lead aprons require particular care. They must be stored and cleaned in specific ways. 

Firstly, lead aprons should never be folded, creased, or bent. Doing so can crack the exterior and affect the apron’s effectiveness. For a similar reason, the apron should not be stretched when in use. Importantly, do not put pressure on it (like sitting or placing objects on top) while it is stretched taut. 

When cleaning a lead apron, gentle materials must be used. A cold, damp cloth or mild detergent are acceptable cleaning materials. A convenient and more effective option is sanitizing wipes. Bleach, hot water, washing machines, and dry cleaning should never be used to clean a lead apron.

If possible, it is a great choice to invest in lead aprons that are stain-resistant and without velcro closures. Not only do these aprons make cleaning easier, but they are also made of high-quality material. Additionally, they are a lighter weight, eliminating one of the problems posed by the heavier traditional lead aprons.

The Importance of Regular Lead Apron Inspection

In addition to maintenance, inspection of aprons is a critical way to stop contamination and extend the usefulness of each individual apron. Habitual inspection can extend lead aprons’ longevity because small issues can be fixed and larger problems averted. 

Other benefits of daily or weekly inspections are:

  • Ensuring the aprons that are cracked, thinning, scratched, or torn are discarded. Bacterial contamination is not the only safety concern presented by lead aprons. If an apron is cracked, torn, or otherwise damaged, it could affect the apron’s ability to fully block radiation.
  • Knowing if there are small defects in the apron because they usually cannot be found by hand. Relatedly, it is not enough to give a cursory glance over the aprons once a month. They should be inspected as thoroughly as possible.
  • Guarantees each apron is being properly cleaned and sanitized. For example, if only a damp cloth is being used, it may be time to upgrade to sanitary wipes to ensure the aprons are completely cleaned.

It may be tempting to ignore small damaged parts or overall worn lead aprons, but doing so will result in more serious, long-lasting damage to the user’s health. Whether it is bacterial infection or exposure to radiation, the negative effects are inevitable. Only well-maintained lead aprons can prevent risks to health. 

Barrier Technologies: Provider of Quality Lead Aprons for Radiation Protection

Barrier Technologies are experts in the field of protective equipment. We provide solutions to real problems. With innovation as one of our central principles, we are constantly striving to provide more useful, efficient, and high-quality products. 

We offer lead aprons designed to prevent bacterial contamination, are wearable for many hours, and are easily cleaned using sanitizing wipes. UltraFlex is stain-resistant and lightweight; combined with magnetic closures, it is one of the best options available for radiation protection.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact the Barrier Technologies team today!