Lead vs Non Lead Radiation Protection Apparel

Since the inception of modern radiation protection, lead has been the predominant material utilized to attenuate x-rays.  Placed between the x-ray beam and any object in need of shielding, lead blankets, lead aprons & lead barriers effectively protect patients and personnel from unnecessary exposure. The reason lead was selected as a shielding material is that it is dense and boasts a high atomic number, thus rendering it substantially effective against x-rays.  Readily available and functional, lead does have drawbacks in both its weight & lack of environmental friendliness. Lead is a hazardous material and must be recycled when apparel is no longer functional.

While lead continues to be a widely used source of radiation protection material, it is not the only element effective against the harmful effects of x-ray.  In recent years radiation protection apparel manufacturers have developed non-lead radiation protection apparel.  Each manufacturer utilizes their own proprietary blend of x-ray attenuating elements to create an x-ray shielding barrier comparable to lead.  Not to be outdone, non-lead apparel is 20-25% lighter in weight than regular lead.  As if that does not make this option desirable enough, the NonLead protective apparel on the market today is environmentally friendly.  Unlike their lead counterparts, non-lead apparel does NOT need to be recycled once it is no longer in circulation.  The garments can be disposed of in the regular waste collection.

While non-lead aprons are slightly more expensive than lead gowns, the benefits outweigh the additional cost.  Back and shoulder injuries are prevalent among physicians and medical personnel required to wear radiation protection apparel on a daily basis. During some procedures, personnel may don these items for 4-5 hours at a time.  Non-lead aprons can afford the user a 2-5 lb weight differential, a noticeable difference while standing during a patient exam.  In addition, the cost of recycling lead aprons can be substantial – even if all you have to pay for is shipping!

Radiation protection Apparel is a must for medical professionals working in and around medical imaging departments. Now that you know more about the differences and similarities between lead and non-lead options, select the configuration that most closely suits your personal needs.