Radiology Personal Protective Equipment

X-Ray Personal Protective Equipment (X Ray PPE) is necessary to protect patients and radiology technicians from the damaging effects of scatter radiation and contact with open beam x-ray applications.

Radiology PPE (personal protective equipment) is a category of special protective gear specifically designed to shield the radiology professional from the hazards of scatter radiation.

Radiology professionals must prevent potential exposure to radiation’s detrimental effects by wearing the proper x-ray PPE. By rigorously implementing the ALARA principle of radiation, exposure to ionizing radiation can be avoided.

X-ray imaging technology has advanced enormously since it was first used clinically in the early 1900s. However, radiation is cumulative, and for radiologists, radiographers, and other imaging personnel, years of exposure can add up to considerable risk and health issues.

When the appropriate protections are in place, the power of x-ray radiation can be used safely for procedures such as:

  • Medical x-ray images and fluoroscopes.
  • Internal radiation brachytherapy to shrink cancers.
  • 3D dental tomography.
  • Security scanning for concealed items.

A wide range of X Ray PPE is available, including aprons, thyroid collars, gloves, mobile barriers, and more. The type of protective equipment necessary depends on the kind of procedure being performed. 

Continue reading to learn why radiation protection equipment is necessary, how attenuating garments block x-rays, and what types of X Ray Protective Clothing are available. 

Radiology Personal Protective Equipment

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict regulations mandating the use of radiology personal protective equipment. Radiology employees must adhere to the PPE practices as set forth by their employers, according to these regulations. The provision of X-Ray Personal Protective Equipment (x-ray PPE) is absolutely essential to protect both technicians and patients from the damaging effects of scatter radiation and contact with open beam x-ray applications.

The most common approach to x-ray shielding is the use of special lead-lined protective gear. Lead is an extremely heavy metal with atoms packed very tightly together. It’s virtually impenetrable and therefore excellent at attenuating radiation waves. The downsides of lead are its weight and toxicity. However, modern metallurgical science has introduced new lead-free shielding materials that are much lighter to wear and less toxic. An example is Barrier Technologies’ innovative Pb-free attenuation material.

Barrier technologies offer its valued customers a wide range of X-Ray PPE. Attenuating garments that block x-rays include aprons, vests, thyroid collars, and gloves. Additional wearable devices include eye protection and face shields. X-ray personal protection equipment also extends to mobile barriers. The type of protective equipment necessary depends on the kind of procedure being performed.

Why X-Ray PPE Is Necessary For Radiation Protection

The Discovery of the x-ray revolutionized medicine, and x-ray machines have saved the lives of countless millions around the globe. But one disadvantage of this breakthrough was the sudden increase in exposure to radioactive x-rays. 

Fortunately for patients, routine and emergency x-rays pose little risk to their wellbeing, as they won’t reach the critical exposure thresholds for diseases related to ionizing radiation. However, radiologists and other healthcare professionals who work around radiation aren’t so fortunate.

Health Effects of Radiation 

Radiology technicians can easily be exposed to dozens of instances of scatter radiation each day, pushing them ever closer to the brink of radiation-induced conditions.  

Diseases associated with exposure to ionizing radiation include: 

  • Lymphomas
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Cancers of the bone, brain, bile ducts, esophagus, breast, gall bladder, colon, thyroid collar, and all other cancers.
  • Parathyroid adenoma
  • Tumors of the central nervous system
  • Cortical cataracts
  • Posterior subcapsular cataracts

Excessive exposure to x-rays can also cause hair loss, skin damage, burns, and other painful health conditions. 

How Radiation Causes Disease

When an x-ray photon hits a person, it collides with atoms in the person’s cells. Electrons are knocked out of atoms with each new impact, destroying the electronic balance that atoms require and transforming them into ions or electrically charged atoms. 

Compromised atoms wreak havoc in their cells, damaging molecules and disrupting DNA. 

If enough atoms and cells are damaged, health conditions (like those listed above) can occur. 

How X-Ray Protective Clothing Blocks Radiation 

To protect technologists, doctors, and other personnel from the damaging effects of x-rays, it’s crucial to stock your facility with the appropriate radiation PPE. 

Protective gear blocks x-rays using an attribute called “attenuation.” 

Attenuation is the ability of an element to block radiation from passing through. This is determined on the atomic level, as certain elements have a small atomic density while others are hugely dense. 

Flesh and muscle are composed of light elements like carbon (which has an atomic density of 12). This allows x-rays to easily pass through the body, knocking electrons out of orbit all the way through. 

In contrast, the elements used in radiation PPE, like lead (atomic density of 207) and bismuth (atomic density of 209), block x-ray photons in their tracks. 

Here’s a quick analogy to help you understand how this works:

Lightweight elements (e.g., carbon) are like a small empty field, and an x-ray photon is like a frisbee. Throwing a frisbee from one side of the field to the other is easy, as nothing is blocking your throw. 

Now imagine filling the field with hundreds of tall trees — this represents a dense element like lead. This time, when you throw the frisbee, it will immediately strike a tree, lose its energy, and fall to the ground. 

This is how heavy elements like bismuth, lead, and tungsten defends against x-rays. The tightly packed atoms in these materials prevent radiation from reaching the other side and damaging the person. 

Types of Radiology Personal Protective Equipment

Here at Barrier Technologies, we develop and manufacture a huge variety of X Ray PPE. Our expansive inventory of PPE for radiation protection from gamma rays and x-rays includes: 

Aprons

Radiation protective aprons are available in lead or ultra-lightweight lead-free options. Both options are equally effective at blocking radiation to the torso, with some styles offering only front protection, while others provide full back and front protection. We also manufacture long aprons that provide leg protection above the knees.

Aprons can also be paired with full or half-length sleeves for increased long bone protection. 

Personnel working in high-dose fluoroscopy settings usually wear dosimeters to monitor x-ray protection. One dosimeter is worn on the outside to track total exposure, while another dosimeter is worn on the inside of the apron to verify that the x-rays are being blocked. 

Barrier Technologies’ aprons and vests are available with standard lead or lightweight lead-free protective core material. Our protective apparel is lightweight, comfortable, and provides lasting radiation protection.

Thyroid Collars

Thyroid collars are another essential item for your radiation protective gear kit. The thyroid gland is susceptible to radiation and requires protection from scatter radiation to mitigate the risk of developing thyroid cancer. 

Barrier Technologies’ comfortable and effective thyroid collars are designed to protect the thyroid gland, located where the neck meets the chest. Barrier Technologies has a patented magnetic closure system named MagnaGuard™ that eliminates the need for velcro closure, enabling the wearer to properly clean and disinfect their Thyroid Collar.

Gloves

Radiation protection gloves are crucial for physicians at risk of putting their hands in direct contact with the primary x-ray beam. Exposure of hands to X-ray radiation may result in radiodermatitis or cancers.

Barrier Technologies manufactures lead free and latex free innovative radiation protection gloves. Our STerile, Lead-Free gloves are engineered for enhanced tactile sensitivity and maximum comfort, featuring curved fingers to reduce tension on the hand during lengthy procedures.

Glasses

Leaded eyewear defends the eyes against scattered x-rays, helping technologists reduce the risk of radiation-induced cataracts. Our specialized Corning Med-X® Glass lenses offer the highest level of protection in the industry and can be enhanced with anti-reflective and anti-fog coatings. 

Barrier Technologies is a leading provider of long-lasting lead radiation safety glasses offering 0.75mm Pb protection in a variety of different frames & RX options.

Barriers & Shields

Mobile radiation barriers are crucial to long bone protection during high-dose fluoroscopy procedures. Barrier Technologies’ mobile barriers come in full body height, for bedside protection, or height adjustable options. Our innovative portable shields stand on wheels, providing up to 4x the protection of your standard lead apron and giving doctors and techs something to lean on during long procedures.

Radiology Safety Rules

The ALARA principle of radiation is governed by the three rules of Time, Distance, and Shielding:

  1. Time: Minimizing exposure time reduces the dose from the radiation source.
  2. Distance: As distance increases from the radiation source, the radiation dose decreases dramatically.
  3. Shielding: Inserting the proper shielding greatly reduces or eliminates the dose received.

Radiology departments must incorporate these three rules in a Radiation Protection Plan that includes:

  • The provision of suitable PPE for all staff and patients.
  • Checking and management of pregnant staff and patients.
  • Avoiding contact with open beam x-ray applications.
  • Periodic inspection and maintenance of PPE equipment.
  • Wearing dosimeters such as film badges, pocket dosimeters, or thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs).
  • Correct handling of PPE, which includes the procedure and sequence for donning and doffing.
  • Proper storage of PPE garments, without folding or creasing, to preserve functionality.
  • Special storage areas or equipment for PPE, for example, apron racks for lead aprons.

Enhanced Radiation Protection Gear

An advantage of ordering your radiology protective equipment from Barrier Technologies is that we equip our products with antibacterial and comfort-boosting features to make them easier to wear for long periods. 

These features include: 

MagnaGuard™ 

MagnaGuard™ is an antibacterial magnetic closure that eliminates velcro on aprons and thyroid collars. 

We invented this new closure because velcro is notorious for harboring pathogens and contributes to the spread of HAIs. 

Removing velcro from our radiation PPE, we help radiology technicians stay healthy and make our products more comfortable to wear (no more hair pulls!). 

UltraFlex™

UltraFlex™ is an antibacterial outer material that is our answer to the traditional nylon that covers most aprons. 

We developed this fabric because standard nylon is porous, making it impossible to clean. 

UltraFlex™, on the other hand, is impervious to fluids, can be cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectant (making it COVID-19 compliant), and is more comfortable to wear as it’s a 4-way stretch fabric.

Emergency Radiation PPE Aprons 

Another advantage of ordering your x-ray protective clothing from Barrier Technologies is that we offer a line of ready-to-ship aprons that can be mailed within 24 hrs of your order. 

Our Ready-To-Go (RTG) aprons are available in a variety of configurations, including: 

  • 4 Sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • 5 Colors: red, black, royal blue, navy blue, or charcoal gray
  • 2 Styles: our frontal apron or our 2-piece support vest and skirt

These immediately available aprons are equipped with both UltraFlex™ and MagnaGuard™ to help keep your staff safe from radiation and HAIs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What precautions should be taken when working with x-rays?

A: The three tenets are Time, Distance, and Shielding to minimize exposure. Avoid contact with the beam. Wear a dosimeter and x-ray PPE.

Q: What PPE is required for radiologic workers?

A: The 3 pieces of PPE for all radiologic workers are aprons, thyroid shields, and dosimeters. Additional PPE depends on the task, for example, fluoroscopy requires leaded eyewear. Other x-ray PPE includes gloves, face shields, mobile barriers, and more.

Q: What are the long-term consequences of x-ray exposure?

A: The effects are cumulative and the risk of cancer increases with each dose. X-rays can also induce radiodermatitis of the skin. Fetuses and young children carry triple the risk of cancer.

Q: Is lead-lined x-ray PPE better than lightweight options?

A: Both types of PPE are extremely effective. Lead is standard and heavier, but tungsten-based alloys provide lighter, and more comfortable shielding.

Q: Is x-ray PPE washable?

A: No, but it can be wiped down with special antimicrobial cleaning agents. Barrier Technologies manufacturers an Apron cleaning wipe designed specifically for this purpose.

Q: Can x-ray PPE be shared?

A: Even if it’s kept clean, and fits properly, x-ray PPE should not be shared between staff members.

Order Your Radiation Protective Gear Today

Barrier Technologies has established itself as a leader in the radiation PPE industry. Our engineers are dedicated to creating safe, comfortable, and sanitary products that help radiologists work effectively without fatigue or the risk of contracting HAIs. 

Here at Barrier Technologies, your safety is our concern. We are the foremost radiation protection solutions company developing innovative products to protect people from the harmful effects of scatter radiation.

Ensuring that your employees are equipped with high-quality, durable x-ray PPE is not only an essential business practice but also mandated by regulations. We pride ourselves on the design, manufacture, and supply of incomparable PPE that exceeds all CDA and FDA requirements. We invite you to explore our site and browse our catalogs to choose the best solution for your organization.

If you need radiation protection gear immediately, take advantage of our Ready To Go line of aprons. Place your order now, and your aprons will ship within 24 hours. 

For custom apron orders or to order other items from our X Ray PPE catalog, contact our office.