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X-Ray Attenuating Gloves: Your Protection from Radiation

By October 21, 2022December 27th, 2023No Comments

For many years, lead was the only suitable attenuating substance for radiation protection apparel. Because old habits die hard and it was true in the past, radiologic professionals often refer to their protective gloves as “lead gloves”, regardless of their composition. This verbal shorthand is so much easier to say than “x-ray attenuating gloves”, or “radiation protection gloves”!

However, with modern technological advances in metallurgy and materials science, new options have become available. Lead is still the gold standard for many applications, but cutting-edge research has resulted in comparable lead-free alternatives. If you think that wearing heavy, cumbersome gloves interferes with your tactile sensitivity and dexterity, there are other options for you to consider.

What Are the Radiation Protection Options for Your Hands?

1. Lead Gloves

Lead gloves are the original radiation protection gloves. Lead (chemical symbol Pb) is the traditional radiation attenuating substance and is still widely used. These gloves usually come in a one-piece molded design with removable vinyl exterior covers and breathable nylon or cotton liners. The lead filling is usually mixed with a latex rubber compound for limited flexibility. They are commonly available in thicknesses, ranging from 0.2mm to 0.5mm.

2. Lead-Free Gloves

Lead-free gloves usually contain bismuth, bismuth oxide, and/or tungsten, mixed with other elements and compounds. Barrier Technologies™ is a leader in the development of innovative lead-free gloves. Our Secure Touch® range of gloves includes

  • XR1: 0.02mm thick with 0.02mm Pb equivalence for maximum tactile sensitivity.
  • XR2: 0.04mm thick with 0.04mm Pb equivalence for maximum attenuation.
  • XRF: 0.035mm thick with 0.04mm Pb equivalence & Latex Free for excellent tactile sensitivity.


Why Do You Need Proper Protection From Radiation?

Working in radiology is wonderfully rewarding and interesting. However, when you’re busy helping people all day long, it’s easy to forget you have a slightly increased chance of developing radiation-induced diseases. The hazardous effects of ionizing radiation aren’t seen immediately, but damage to DNA and subsequent genetic effects accumulate with each dose received.

The disease that affects the hands most frequently is chronic occupational radiodermatitis. This painful, but avoidable disease is most commonly found in medical professionals whose hands have been exposed over years of performing radiodiagnostic procedures, such as fluoroscopy. Over time, ulcerations and keratoses can develop, or even malignant forms such as Bowen’s disease and other carcinomas.

The best way to protect your hands from the negative effects of ionizing radiation is to keep them out of the path of the direct x-ray beam and work on the exit-beam side of your patient. However, it’s also critically important to wear high-quality radiation protection on your hands. This shielding will keep your hands safe from the harmful effects of scatter radiation. (It’s important to note that placing a gloved hand in the path of the x-ray beam causes scattering, which could increase your patient’s dose.)

Radiation Reducing Gloves: Choose Your Protection from Radiation

several aspects should be taken into account when choosing the radiation protection that suits you best. This decision should be informed by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) guidelines, the type of work that you do, disposal concerns, and personal preferences. The table below illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of radiation protection for your hands:

X-Ray Attenuating Gloves Radiation ProtectionLead Free Gloves Radiation Protection


All radiologic personnel should ensure that they are fully aware of the safety procedures and ICRP guidelines to follow when performing x-ray procedures. Protection of the hands from unnecessary exposure is vital to mitigate the deleterious effects of ionizing radiation. Failure to do so can result in long-term damage and serious diseases such as radiodermatitis.

Barrier Technologies is constantly developing novel, innovative products, and materials to ensure your safety and peace of mind when working with scatter radiation. For the best x-ray attenuating protection available, please download our catalog to choose from our lead-free glove options. Contact us today for more information or to place your order.