As new and more complex x-ray devices are developed, so new and more advanced x-ray lead shields become necessary. Recent tightening of standards for radiation exposure dosage mean that more effective shielding is essential. Although new shielding materials are becoming more prevalent, lead is still the gold standard for protection against the harmful effects of radiation.
Lead shields for x-rays can take many forms, from aprons and other personal protective equipment to physical barriers that can be positioned between radiation sources and people. Lead is excellent at guarding against radiation exposure, but this element is heavy, toxic and brings its own set of problems to be solved.
Why Is Lead Used in an X-Ray Shield?
When working with radiation, the ALARA principle is paramount. This acronym is derived from the phrase As Low As Reasonably Achievable. The practice of the ALARA principle has three important aspects. These are:
- Time: The duration of exposure should be as short as possible
- Distance: The distance from the radiation source should be as far as possible.
- Shielding: The source of radiation and the people near it should be shielded wherever possible.
Why is lead used for x-ray shields? This interesting element has some extremely useful properties. It’s the highest atomic number element that is stable and not radioactive. Each atom has 82 protons and 82 electrons. The highly positively charged nucleus of each lead atom holds on very strongly to its electron cloud, making it extremely dense. When electromagnetic radiation tries to pass through lead, the electrons absorb the energy most effectively in a process called attenuation.
Because of its enormous density, lead can pack a great deal of protection into a very thin layer. It is a soft, malleable and flexible metal that can easily be rolled into sheets, plates, slabs and foils. It can also be added to glass, acrylic resin, putties, etc. These fabrication properties make it ideally suited for use in all types of x-ray shields.
Biological Effects of Radiation Exposure
If you are exposed to radiation, it can have two categories of biological effects. These are:
- Stochastic effects: These are effects that occur by chance, without a threshold level of radiation dose. Although the biochemical machinery of the body is excellent at repairing DNA, it can’t fix all genetic damage. Many years later, the damage can manifest as cancer or harmful mutations that can be passed on to your children.
- Non-stochastic effects: These are deterministic effects that are directly linked to a threshold of exposure, or several radiation doses received. Over time, repeated exposure can cause damage such as radiation-induced cataracts or chronic radiodermatitis. If you work in a radiologic environment, it is very important to bear in mind that radiation doses are cumulative.
What Are the Harmful Effects of Lead?
- Lead is toxic. Exposure through ingestion, contact, or breathing in lead dust can result in lead poisoning. This can cause irreversible neurological, physiological, and behavioral symptoms such as impaired cognitive ability. Treatment of this entirely preventable disease can be challenging as lead deposits in the bones, making it difficult to remove.
- Lead is an environmental hazard. It can pollute the atmosphere and contaminate soil, food, and water sources. This poses a severe danger to living organisms.
- Lead dust exposure is a concern. Damaged lead aprons can pose a serious risk to radiologic workers. Also, because of the danger to the environment, there are special disposal protocols for lead aprons that are no longer serviceable.
- Lead is extremely heavy. Radiologic professionals who are required to wear heavy lead aprons for long periods can develop debilitating musculoskeletal ailments such as back, neck, shoulder, knee, and hip pain. Lead aprons can also cause muscle strain and fatigue.
How Our Mobile Lead Shields for X-Rays Protect You From Harm
#1. Full-Body Mobile Barriers
- These “door” type mobile barriers are especially good for non-interventionist technicians and radiographers who are not required to be next to the patient during imaging procedures.
- Our full-body barriers contain a Barrier Safe™ glass viewing window that comes in two sizes—24” or 48” high x 30” wide.
- We use shatter-resistant glass rather than acrylic, because it is lighter, scratch-resistant, more transparent, and doesn’t discolor over time.
- The laminated and lead-infused glass provides 1.6mm Pb @ 150 kVp equivalent protection, more than 3x that of a standard lead apron.
- Simply stand behind it when the imaging apparatus is active, knowing that you are protected from secondary radiation, and with an unimpeded view.
#2. Porta Shields
- Our sturdy Porta Shields are ideal for protecting patients during diagnostic procedures.
- They are height-adjustable from 36”–60”, allowing you to shield vital organs and other radiation-sensitive areas that are not being imaged.
- They are available in three sizes and are mounted on a five-leg base with casters for stable mobility.
- They are covered in our UltraFlex anti-bacterial/stain-resistant fabric that can be properly cleaned and disinfected.
#3. The Terminator XR™
- The Terminator XR was specifically designed in response to physicians’ requests for x-ray protection without sacrificing maneuverability.
- This innovative barrier is perfect for physicians who can’t afford to be weighed down or hindered by cumbersome gear while performing complex procedures.
- Eliminate that heavy x-ray suit that hangs from a crane or the ceiling! The Terminator XR is on wheels for maximum comfort, maneuverability, and unimpeded patient access at the examination or operating table.
- It’s fully height-adjustable for users from 5’ to 6’ 6” and can be used side-by-side by all team members.
- It provides 1.0mm Pb equivalent protection in each panel, and 2.0mm Pb equivalent in overlapping areas. This is 2–4x the protection of a 0.5mm Pb equivalent apron, without the weight.
- It eliminates the need to wear a heavy lead apron and is supplied with its own supplementary lightweight (2 lbs) apron that protects the axillary lymph nodes and Thyroid Gland.
We’re Here to Serve You
At Barrier Technologies®, Your Safety Is Our Concern™. Our goal is to protect you from the harmful effects of scatter radiation without compromising your health in other ways. To this end, we design and fabricate innovative mobile barriers that also offer maximum protection.
You can guard against the risks of exposure to ionizing radiation, and harm from heavy lead aprons with our unsurpassable, state-of-the-art mobile lead x-ray shields. For more information, browse our catalogs or contact our expert consultants for advice.