Archives for May 2014

X-Ray Protective Apron Care: 9 Do’s And Don’ts

Proper X-Ray Protective Apron Care and Use

X-ray aprons serve a very specific purpose, to protect and shield you from the potentially harmful effects of ionizing radiation. Shielding, one of the three concepts of basic radiation safety, should always be used when the use of time and distance principles are not possible.

Protective x-ray aprons constructed of lead or a non-lead equivalent are designed to protect the radiosensitive areas of the body when it is necessary for the healthcare worker to be near the source of radiation. Typically, x-ray aprons will offer frontal protection of 0.5 mm lead equivalency. In some instances, wrap-around x-ray aprons are required when medical personnel will have their backs exposed to the radiation source.

By learning the proper way to maintain and care for your x-ray apron, you will ensure that you are properly protected and you will extend the life of the apron. Below are the four do’s and the five don’ts of proper x-ray apron care. After reading this post, you will know how to keep your x-ray apron looking good while also keeping yourself protected against the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

X-Ray Protective Apron Do’s 

1. Inspect and Check Apron For Defects, Cracks, Creases, and Perforations 

Place the x-ray apron on a flat surface and visually check all the seams as well as the outer and inner covers of x-ray apron for any visible damage. Next, check the belts and fastening devices to confirm that they are in good condition. Lastly, inspect the surface of the apron with your hands to locate any potential lumps, cracks, sagging or separation from the apron seams. If the apron condition appears to be suspect, it should be inspected radiographically. “Rejecting an apron depends on the location, area size and number of flaws. It is best to keep the number of flaws to a minimum¹.”

Note: It is recommended that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and/or the state regulations regarding the proper care and use of lead protective equipment. 

2. Clean Regularly

X-ray Aprons should be cleaned daily and deodorized by scrubbing with a soft bristle brush, using cold water and a mild detergent. Completely remove cleaning residue by thoroughly rinsing with clean, cold water.

Apron Cleaning Tips

To ensure x-ray aprons are not damaged while cleaning, follow these helpful tips:

  • Never use products that contain bleach.
  • Do not soak or submerge x-ray apron in water.
  • Do not machine launder, autoclave or dry-clean.
  • Once cleaning is complete, if possible, hang the apron on the designated apron wall rack to air dry.

3. Properly Store X-Ray Aprons

The x-ray apron manufacturer’s recommendation regarding the proper handling and storage of the apron must be strictly observed. When not in use x-ray aprons must be stored on hangers to prevent cracks in the protective lead. If possible, do not store the x-ray apron on a flat surface. Aprons should be hung by the shoulder or on an approved apron hanger. Aprons should never be folded or creased, to avoid damaging the lead. “Cracks in the lead lining can develop at the fold, reducing the useful life of the apron¹.” Hook and loop fasteners must be secured properly to avoid snagging or tearing of fabric, always store apron with fasteners completely secured.

4.  Dispose Of Lead Aprons Properly

X-ray protective aprons that contain lead cannot be disposed of as municipal solid waste. Consequently, they must be disposed of as hazardous waste or recycled. The Environmental Protection Agency encourages recycling and reuse rather than disposal. According to the EPA, if the lead shield or apron can be reused by another business for its intended purpose then it remains a product, therefore it is not classified as waste or hazardous waste. Recycling the lead apron is the preferred method since it keeps the lead out of the landfill and extends the useful life of the lead apron. When recycling is not an option, you can contact a disposal service to properly dispose of the lead material.

X-Ray Protective Apron Don’ts 

5. Sit While Wearing Your Apron

Unless the x-ray apron has been designed specifically for seated procedures, you will want to avoid sitting while wearing your apron. Cracks in the lead lining can develop while wearing the apron if seated. Also, you will want to avoid sitting on the apron for the same reason.

6. Expose Apron To Extreme Temperatures 

To prevent damage to the apron, you will want to avoid exposing your x-ray apron to extreme hot or cold temperatures or to direct sunlight.

7. Lean Against Pointed Objects or Sharp Edges

Avoid storing sharp objects in the pockets. X-ray aprons can become damaged while leaning up against sharp or pointed objects, creating perforations in the lead lining and reducing the attenuating qualities of the lead.

8. Store Aprons Over Chair Backs or Equipment

Laying aprons over a chair back or piece of equipment can create creases in the lead lining and can reduce the useful life of the apron.

9. Fold Aprons

To prevent damage to the lead lining, avoid folding, wadding or creasing your x-ray apron.

Ensure Reliable Performance 

To ensure safe performance, as well as keeping your x-ray apron looking good for years to come, we strongly recommend that each x-ray protective apron is thoroughly inspected upon receipt and at regular intervals and properly stored when not in use.

X-ray aprons should be evaluated every 18-24 months to determine if replacement is needed, depending on the amount of usage and general wear and tear.  If you found this post helpful, please feel free to share this post or our SlideShare presentation with your colleagues.

 

 

 

 

 

What You Need To Know About Your Laser Systems

Lasers emit a source of high-energy light, which can be focused to transmit light onto small areas. Medical lasers have been used in a variety of different applications and procedures for many years. They are used in many clinical, surgical, cosmetic, diagnostic and dermatologic procedures.

Laser Safety glasses are a primary safety requirement and should be worn at all times during laser procedures. It is a crucial that the operating laser and protective eyewear match. This post will highlight a few common lasers and their many applications in the medical arena.

YAG Lasers (Nd:Yag and Er:Yag) are commonly used in the following medical procedures: eye surgeries, dentistry, skin restoration treatments, hair removal, orthopedic procedures and more. This type of laser produces short-pulsed and high-energy light beams giving the ability to cut, perforate and separate tissue. All Yag lasers can be operated in continuous/pulsed or Q-switched mode. Yag Laser Safety Glasses will keep your medical staff and patients protected during Yag laser applications.

CO2 Lasers (carbon dioxide lasers) are very useful in surgical procedures because biological tissue absorbs this frequency of light well. Some medical uses are skin resurfacing, dermabrasion, treatments of skin conditions, microsurgeries and more. It is important to make sure all your medical personnel are properly trained for using and working around high powered lasers. Accidents can easily take place without the appropriate training and education.

Diode Lasers are often used in dentistry and medical applications and have the ability to emit many different ranges of wavelengths. Common medical uses for the diode lasers are hair removal, skin rejuvenation, varicose vein removal, dental applications, treatments of macular degeneration and carpal tunnel syndrome, etc. Protective eyewear, like the Diode Safety Laser Glasses should be stored in a protective unit for safe keeping when they are not being used. Safety glasses dispensers will help keep glasses clean and organized.

Alexandrite Lasers are often used in cosmetic and dermatologic treatments also including fluorescence diagnostics. These lasers were developed to isolate and emit certain wavelengths of light to be used in a variety of medical and scientific purposes.

Your facility should be compliant with ANSI standards (Safe Use if Lasers in Health Care) and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, both require staff to wear laser safety glasses or goggles when operating or around Class 3b and Class 4 lasers. These lasers can cause significant injuries to the eye, including partial/full loss of vision. There are many other important types of laser systems used in the medical setting and it is important to know the safety measures that are needed with each one. If you have any comments of questions, please let us know below!

Do You Know Your Occupational Radiation Dose?

Ionizing Radiation Exposure 

Ionizing radiation is radiation with enough energy so that during an interaction with an atom, it can remove tightly bound electrons from the orbit of an atom, causing the atom to become charged or ionized¹.

X-radiation

X-rays are a type ionizing radiation, which are electromagnetic, indirectly ionizing radiation. X-ray machines and radiation emitting sources are used in hospitals for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Hospital employees or “occupational workers” who work in radiology, nuclear medicine, radiation oncology, and some laboratories are specifically trained in the operation of machines that emit radiation as well as the handling of radioactive materials and sources.

Shortly after Wilhelm Roentgen’s discovery of X-rays in 1895 , concern over the biological effects of ionizing radiation began. Over the past 100 years, diagnostic radiology has evolved from the original, unrefined practices to the advanced medical imaging techniques that are now an essential tool for all branches and specialties.

Ionizing radiation provides many benefits, but also has the potential to cause harm to patients and medical personnel. Throughout the years, multiple recommendations regarding occupational exposure limits have been developed by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and other radiation protection groups. The primary guidelines established have had two principle objectives: 1) to prevent acute exposure; and 2) to limit chronic exposure to “acceptable” levels.

The ALARA Principle

Based on the conservative assumption, current guidelines state that there is no safe level of radiation exposure. Even the smallest exposure to ionizing radiation has some probability of causing a stochastic effect, such as cancer. The ALARA principle is based upon this assumption and has led to the general philosophy of keeping exposures below recommended levels and regulation limits. ALARA is a basic radiation safety principle and means that every reasonable effort must be made to keep the dose to workers and the public “as low as reasonably achievable.”

Occupational Exposure

Regulatory limits for occupational exposure are found in Title 10 Part 20 [Standards For Protection Against Radiation] of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Code of Federal Regulations, and in equivalent state regulations. The annual occupational dose limits have been derived from a study of the observed health effects of radiation on humans and animals during the 20th century². By creating these maximum exposure limits, occupationally exposed radiation workers will be subjected to a level of risk no greater than that in other occupations subject to high safety standards.

Units of Measure

Absorption of radiation can cause tissue damage, therefore a unit of measuring the damage and ensuring that the damage is kept to a minimum is necessary. The amount of radiation energy absorbed in a body is referred to as dose, therefore dose is the amount of radiation you receive. Dose rate indicates how fast you receive the dose or the intensity of the radiation.

  • Dose – generally measured in mrem
  • Dose rate – generally measured in mrem/hr.

Dose-equivalent or rem is a special unit used for measuring dose in a person.

“The rem is the unit used for equating radiation absorption with biological damage.” 

The rem is a rather large unit of measure. Consequently, radiation exposure is generally measured in thousandths of a rem – or a millirem as shown in the table above.

1 rem = 1000 millirem

Occupational radiation exposure is recorded in rems or Roentgen equivalent man. The rem factors in the energy absorbed and the relative biological effect on the body due to the different types of radiation (quality factor). The rem is a measure of the relative harm or risk caused by a given dose of radiation when compared to other doses of radiation of any type. Put simply, the rem can be thought of as the unit of biological hazard.

Maximum Annual Occupational Dose
Whole Body5000 millirem
Extremities 50000 millirem
Lens of the Eye15000 millirem
Fetus500 millirem*
Individuals in the General Public100 millirem

*500 millirem for the fetus is during the gestation period

Sources:

http://www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/about/what_is_ir/en/

http://www.jlab.org/div_dept/train/rad_guide/fund.html

The ALARA Principle: 3 Safety Measures To Follow

The ALARA principle is an important principle for any worker, exposed to radiation, to fully understand and apply in every day use.

What is ALARA? 

ALARA stands for “As Low As Reasonably Achievable”, a safety principle specifically designed to reduce radiation doses and releases of radioactive materials. ALARA is a regulatory requirement for all radiation safety programs¹. The ALARA principle also factors in the technologic and economic considerations, while keeping radiation doses and releases of radioactive materials to the environment as low as reasonably achievable.

What is the biological basis of ALARA? 

“The biological basis for radiation protection assumes a conservative estimate of radiation dose versus effect, termed “linear hypothesis.” This hypothesis states that, any dose, no matter how small, may inflict some degree of detriment. “This detriment takes the form of an postulated risk of cancer and genetic damage.” While the risk of cancer and genetic damage exists in the absence of radiation, exposure to ionizing radiation increases the level of risk.

Radiation safety programs strive to lower doses, in most situations this can be accomplished, but may involve more costly practices. The ALARA philosophy serves as a balance between dose reduction and economic considerations. There comes a point that the costs outweigh the benefit of further dose reduction.

ALARA Philosophy And Safety 

An effective radiation safety and ALARA program is only possible when a commitment to safety is made by all those who are involved in the use of radiation. This may include members of the radiation safety committee, radiation safety division staff, medical personnel, research faculty, and all radiation workers.

Medical and research facilities will have a radiation safety manual that provides guidelines for the responsibilities and best practices which are consistent with both the ALARA concept and state regulatory requirements. Although these guidelines may vary by state, there is a regulatory requirement that requires radiation workers to adhere to legal dose limits for regulatory compliance, as well as an ALARA investigation dose level which serves as alert points for radiation worker radiation safety practices.

ALARA Safety Measures For Mitigating External Radiation Hazards

  1.  Time: It’s important to minimize your time of radiation exposure.
  2. Distance: Doubling the distance between your body and the radiation source will divide the radiation shielding exposure by a factor of 4.
  3. Shielding: Using absorber materials such as lead for X-rays and gamma rays is an effective way to reduce radiation exposures.

Lead Shielding

Time and distance are two factors that can be controlled by the operator. However, lead shielding is more complex, since there are a variety of shielding options available. Radiation shielding is based on the principle of attenuation, which is the gradual loss in intensity of any energy through a medium. Lead acts as a barrier to reduce a ray’s effect by blocking or bouncing through a barrier material. When X-Ray photons interact with matter, the quantity is reduced from the original x-ray beam.

Protection From X-Rays

The purpose of lead shielding is to protect the patients (when not being examined), X-Ray department staff,  visitors and the general public, as well as the people working near the X-Ray facility. There are three sources of radiation that must be shielded; secondary or scattered (originates via the patient), primary (the x-ray beam), and leakage (from the x-ray tube).

Types Of Lead Shielding

 

Radiation Safety And ALARA

 

Sources:

http://www.ncsu.edu/ehs/radiation/forms/alara.pdf

https://www.ehs.washington.edu/manuals/rsmanual/7alara.pdf

Radiation Shielding: A Key Radiation Protection Principle

Time, Distance, and Shielding

Time, distance, and shielding are the three basic concepts of radiation protection that apply to all types of ionizing radiation. Shielding simply means having something that will absorb radiation between the source of the radiation and the area to be protected. Radiation shielding is based on the principle of attenuation, which is the gradual loss in intensity of any energy through a medium.

Lead acts as a barrier to reduce a ray’s effect by blocking or bouncing particles through a barrier material.  When X-ray photons interact with matter, the quantity is reduced from the original x-ray beam. Attenuation is the result of interactions between x-ray and matter that include absorption and scatter. Differential absorption increases as kVp decreases. The greater the shielding around a radiation source, the smaller the exposure.

X-Ray And Gamma Rays

X-ray and gamma rays are forms of electromagnetic radiation that occur with higher energy levels than those displayed by ultraviolet or visible light. Thick, dense shielding, such as lead, is necessary to protect against the energy emitted from x-rays. Shielding and x-ray room design is a very important consideration for any healthcare facility that  performs diagnostic and interventional radiology.

The purpose of shielding is to protect the patients (when not being examined), X-Ray department staff, visitors and the general public, as well as the people working near the  X-Ray facility. There are three sources of radiation that must be shielded; scattered or secondary (from the patient), primary (the x-ray beam), and leakage (from the x-ray tube).

Scatter Radiation

Diagnostic x-ray procedures frequently require medical personnel to remain in the exam room where they are subjected to scatter radiation. Lead aprons offer valuable protection from radiation exposure but there are times that a mobile lead radiation barrier is required to provide a full body shielding barrier.

Imaging procedures performed in remote locations, such as operating rooms, cardiac catheterization labs, and special procedure rooms pose an added challenge to protect against radiation exposure. Lead barriers are excellent for imaging procedures using ionizing radiation such as fluoroscopy, x-ray, mammography and CT.

Lead Shielding

The use of shielding provides a barrier between you and the source of the radiation. Some examples of shielding are lead aprons, lead glasses, thyroid shields and portable or mobile lead shields. Mobile lead shields of at least 0.25 mm lead equivalency are recommended to be used by anyone working near the table during fluoroscopy procedures when possible. Remember to follow ALARA “as low as reasonably achievable” guidelines when involved in diagnostic or interventional radiology procedures. Lead garments, lead gloves, thyroid shields, leaded glasses, lead drapes, as well as mobile and stationary lead barriers between the patient and personnel all reduce exposure to scatter radiation.

Questions? Comments? 

If you have any questions regarding the selection of lead barriers or mobile lead shields, please feel free to leave a comment below or connect with us over on our Google+ community page and keep the discussion going!

Whiteboard Wednesday: Selecting The Right Lab Mixing Equipment

Whiteboard Wednesday Topic

How to select the right laboratory mixing equipment for your facility.

There are three categories of laboratory mixing equipment:

  1. Lab mixers
  2. Shakers
  3. Rockers

Watch our video below to learn more!

How To Choose The Right X-Ray Apron Style (Part 3)

Which x-ray apron style is right for you?

X-ray aprons are available in a wide variety of styles to meet the specific needs of medical professionals. Determining which lead x-ray apron style is right for you may seem overwhelming. The selection process can be simplified into several easy steps and in this post we will walk you through the necessary steps to ensure that you find the right x-ray apron as well as the appropriate level of radiation protection. The x-ray selection process can be broken down into three steps: (1) choosing your core material, (2) selecting the type of protection required, and (3) determining the best x-ray apron style for your needs.

Core Materials

In our previous post, How-To Determine Which X-Ray Apron Material Is Right For You, we discussed the three different types of core x-ray apron material options including traditional lead, lead composite, and non-lead. Each core material offers a distinct benefit, traditional lead aprons are the most economical, lead composite aprons provide an average weight savings of 25% compared to traditional lead aprons, and non-lead aprons are the lightest weight option available. Once you have determined the core material you can then choose the type of protection needed.

X-Ray Apron Coverage Protection Options

When selecting the type of radiation protection required for your specific application, it is important to understand the unique benefits each style offers. The three common x-ray apron styles are front protection, front/back protection, and quick-drop. Front protection x-ray aprons are ideal for those who only require front-protection during procedures. X-ray aprons that offer front and back protection are designed for those who circulate and will have their back to the radiation source.  The quick- drop x-ray apron has been designed for those who need to remove the x-ray apron during surgery without breaking the sterile field.

Understanding The Various Style Options

Now that we understand the coverage and protection offered by the three main x-ray apron styles, we can take a closer look into the unique benefits available for each apron style.

Frontal Protection

X-ray aprons offering frontal protection are available with several important features including closure options, back type and frontal aprons designed for specialty applications. Front protection x-ray aprons are available with three different closure types including buckle closure, strap closure (tie style), and velcro closure.

There are several factors you will want to consider when choosing the right x-ray apron back type including apron weight, the length of procedure, and types of procedures performed. There are a variety of x-ray apron back types to choose from including the standard plain back apron, flex back apron, back relief/support apron, and fast wrap aprons. There are several speciality options available including pregnancy aprons (1.00mm Pb equivalency over fetal area) and lap guards, lead aprons with a sewn in thyroid collar, and the quick ship lightweight lead flex guard apron.

Front and Back Protection

There are several options to choose from when looking for front and back protection including full wrap aprons and vest/skirt aprons.  Standard medical x-ray protection levels commonly available  for front/back protection aprons are offered in the following combinations:

Front Protection Pb Equivalent/Back Protection Pb Equivalent

  • 0.50mm/0.25mm
  • 0.35mm/0.25mm
  • 0.25mm/0.25mm

Full Wrap Aprons

Full wrap aprons are available in several styles including full overwrap, special procedure, and tabard styles while providing maximum protection. Full overwrap aprons provide lumbar support which reduces fatigue and upper back stress during long procedures. Vest/skirt aprons create maximum weight distribution between the shoulders and hips which eliminates stress on the upper and lower back.

Full Overwrap Protection 

The full overwrap aprons are secured via velcro straps and provides maximum radiation protection which reduces back fatigue during long procedures.

Special Procedure

Special procedure aprons have velcro seems that allow the sides of the apron to separate when bending or sitting while still maintaining front protection.

 

Tabard Style

The tabard style apron – a tabard was a short coat that men commonly wore during the middle ages – is a sleeveless, single piece apron that has a right shoulder and side velcro closure that allows for easy access.

Vest/Skirt Aprons

Vest/skirt aprons provide greater flexibility to the wearer with regard to sitting, bending, or stooping. The skirt is designed for complete overlap to provide maximum protection. Many of the vest/skirt sizes can be mixed to provide maximum comfort and fit.

Quick Drop X-Ray Apron

The quick-drop apron style is designed to be worn over the scrub suit and under the O.R. gown for quick removal without breaking the sterile field after x-ray procedures are completed. The quick-drop style aprons do not have arm holes and require assistance from a second party when putting it on or removing the apron. Quick-drop aprons are available with velcro criss-cross back flaps that assure easy removal. The Xenolite O.R. Quick-Drop Apron allows for freedom of movement, maximum flexibility, and optimal comfort.

Questions? 

Now that we have reviewed the various benefits of the core materials used in x-ray aprons, the different types of protection, and highlighted some of the main benefits of the different types of apron styles, you should be able to choose the right x-ray apron for your specific needs. If you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment below or contact us via live chat on our e-commerce site during normal business hours (M-F 9-5 EST).

4 Surprising Sources Of Naturally Occurring Radiation

We safely absorb small amounts of naturally occurring radiation daily – or so called “background radiation.” On a normal day an average person is exposed to a background dose of 10 microsieverts. The unit for absorbed dose is “sievert”, which measures the effect a dose of radiation will have on the cells of the body. Naturally occurring radiation can be found all around us.

There are three groupings of naturally occurring radiation, this group is based primarily on the source of the radiation. The first source, primordial or terrestrial radiation comes from soils and rocks. Cosmic or cosmogenic radiation is the second source and originates from the sun and other sources in space. Lastly, human-made radiation, “something created by humans that wouldn’t exist otherwise or something that contains more radiation in it than normal because humans have done something to it.”

Humans

Yes, you read that right, humans are naturally radioactive. Humans eat, drink, and breathe radioactive substances that are naturally present in the environment. Through ingestion and inhalation we absorb these radioactive substances into our body, our organs, tissues, and bones.

According to the Health Physics Society, the average man in the United States receives an effective dose of about 0.3 millisieverts each year from the amount of naturally occurring radionuclides in our bodies. This is about 10 percent of the 3.1 millisievert dose that the average U.S. man who weighs 155 pounds receives each year from all sources of natural background radiation (not including medical sources).

The Sun

Cosmic radiation is one of the three major sources of naturally occurring radiation and comes from the sun and outer space, consisting of positively charged particles, as well as gamma radiation. The sun, powered by a continuous nuclear reaction, gives off a great deal of radiation. Luckily, most of the energy given off by the sun is intercepted and absorbed by the Earth’s magnetosphere and the ozone layer.

In the United States, the average dose from cosmic radiation is approximately 0.28 millisieverts per year. At higher elevations the dose increases because the amount of atmospheric shielding from cosmic rays is decreased. As exposure rates increase in higher elevations the same principle applies to air travel, flight-crews on long-distance flights can accumulate approximately 30% more annual radiation exposure than the average person.

The Ground

Terrestrial radiation, a source of naturally occurring radiation, can include a variety of minerals and materials buried in the earth, including potassium-40, thorium-232 and uranium-238 which all have relatively long half-lives. Although not as common, there are materials with shorter half-lives radium-226 (decay product of uranium-238) and radon-222 (which is a product of radon gas).

Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally as an indirect decay product of uranium and thorium that can be found in the soil and rocks beneath homes, in well water, and in building materials. Soil contains radon gas, this gas can seep into homes through cracks and holes in the foundation and accumulating in rooms with poor ventilation. Soils rich in limestone appear to have a higher concentration of radon to release.

Human activities can lead to the introduction of natural radioactive elements. These elements are present in very low concentrations in the earth’s crust and are brought to the surface through human activities such as oil and gas exploration or mining through natural processes like leakage of radon gas into the atmosphere or through dissolution in groundwater.

Bananas

Did you know? Bananas are one of the most commonly encountered sources of naturally occurring radiation. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, as a result of naturally being very high in potassium, bananas contain a higher than normal amount of potassium-40 (a radioactive isotope). But please, don’t go throwing out your bananas. By eating one banana you are exposed to 0.1 microsieverts, to put this in perspective, one arm x-ray is equal to 1 microservient. You may have heard the term “banana equivalent dose” when communicating radiation exposure.

Bananas are not the only foods that contain potassium-40, carrots and white potatoes carry slightly lower levels of the radioactive isotope. However, lima beans contain approximately 50% more potassium-40 than bananas and trace amounts of radon-224. While all these foods contain levels of naturally occurring radiation, the levels are extremely low and not considered harmful. An interesting fact about these foods, is that while they may contain small amounts of natural radiation, virtually none of the radioactive material consumed is retained in the body. Now, there is no excuse not to eat your fruits and vegetables.

Radiation Dose Chart

If you are curious about other sources of radiation and the levels of radiation emitted, take a look at this handy radiation dose chart that was created by Randall Munroe. As Randall clearly states, the radiation dose chart is for general education and continues by adding a humorous caveat that “if you’re basing your radiation safety procedures on an internet PNG image and things go wrong, you have no one to blame but yourself.” If you have any questions or comments on radiation safety protection products, feel free to leave a comment below or connect with us on twitter.

 

Whiteboard Wednesday: What Should Someone Consider Before Selecting A Lab Rocker or Shaker?

Today on Whiteboard Wednesday we’re talking about what someone should consider before selecting a laboratory rocker or shaker. With many different sizes and variations to laboratory equipment, it’s important to know exactly what your lab needs. Watch our Whiteboard Wednesday video below:

How To Determine Which X-Ray Apron Material Is Right For You (Part 2)

In our previous post, 3 Different Types of Radiation Shielding Materials, we discussed various radiation shielding material options including standard lead (lead vinyl composition), lead composite and non-lead shielding materials. Radiation shielding garments are generally used to protect medical patients and workers from direct and secondary radiation during diagnostic imaging in hospitals, clinics and dental offices. Radiation shielding garments include x-ray aprons, vests, kilts, skirts and thyroid shields. Now that we have a better understanding of the radiation shielding options available we can apply this knowledge in choosing the right x-ray apron material for your application.

The Three Types Of Radiation Shielding Materials

The first and most well-known radiation shielding material is standard lead. Manufactured with 100% lead, standard lead x-ray aprons are the heaviest x-ray aprons available. The second radiation shielding material is a lead-based composite; lead composite x-ray aprons use a mixture of lead and other light weight radiation attenuating metals, reducing the weight by up to 25% compared to standard lead aprons. The third and final option is the non-lead or lead-free shielding material which is made from other types of attenuating metals including antimony, tungsten, bismuth and tin.

Core Material Options

The three core material options discussed all have their own unique benefits and features. There are many factors you will want to consider when making your decision on which x-ray apron material is best for you including the specific procedure being performed, length of the procedure, and the frequency of the procedure. Following the ALARA principles of time, distance and shielding your radiation safety officer or radiation physicist can evaluate the level of radiation protection required for your specific procedure.

Before we continue this discussion further, it is important to understand the terminology related to protective clothing and radiological protective materials. When choosing x-ray aprons, lead equivalency is quite possibly the most important factor to consider.

Attenuation

The definition of attenuation according to the American Society for Testing and Materials is “For radiological protective material, the reduction in the intensity of the X-ray beam resulting from the interactions between the X-ray beam and the protective material that occur when the X-ray beam passes through the protective material.”

Lead (Pb) Equivalency

The definition of lead equivalency according to the American Society for Testing and Materials is “For radiological protective material, the thickness of in millimeters of lead (commonly designated mmPb) of greater than 99.9 percent purity that provides the same attenuation as a given protective material.”

Kilovolts, Peak (kVp)

The definition of (kVp) according to the American Society for Testing and Materials is “the maximum electrical potential across an x-ray tube during an exposure, expressed in kilovolts.”

Which X-Ray Apron Material Is Right For You?

Standard Lead

Standard lead X-ray aprons are manufactured using 100% lead are the most traditional and economical option. For example, the standard large lead plain back apron (Product Code: 790RL) offers frontal protection weighing in at 11 pounds. This particular apron offers a nominal lead equivalence of 0.5mm and 100% protection at 80 kVp. Standard lead x-ray aprons are well-suited for shorter procedures. The weight of the apron will increase depending on the level and areas of protection required.

Lead Composite

Lead composite x-ray aprons are a lead-based alloy and can achieve weight reductions of up to 25% compared to standard lead x-ray aprons of the same size, style and lead equivalency. The lead composite large male Xenolite Elastic Tab Apron (Product Code: 610E) offers frontal protection weighing in at 9 pounds. This Xenolite apron offers a nominal lead equivalence of 0.50mm and 100% frontal protection at 100 kVp. This lead composite x-ray apron incorporates a two element material; the lead is blended with an additional attenuating metal and is recyclable. The lightweight and ultra-lightweight lead composite x-ray aprons are good for short to medium-length procedures.

Non-Lead

Non-Lead or Lead-Free x-ray aprons are manufactured from a proprietary blend of attenuating heavy metals. Lead is not the only metal that protects you from an x-ray beam. These heavy metals may include barium, aluminum, tin, bismuth, tungsten and titanium. The Xenolite Non-Lead Elastic Tab Apron is 40% lighter than standard lead aprons and has a 0.50mm lead equivalency and 100% frontal protection at 100 kVp. The non-lead and lead-free aprons are recyclable and safe for non-hazardous disposal and are excellent for long procedures.

(Part 3) How To Choose The Right X-Ray Apron Style 

Now that we have discussed the different types of core materials and their benefits, you should have a better understanding of what to look for when selecting your next x-ray apron or radiation shielding garment. In our next post we will discuss the different types of x-ray apron styles that are available. If you have any questions or comments,  please feel free to leave them below or connect with us on twitter!