How Do Lead Glasses Protect Your Eyes?

Protecting Your Eyes From Ionizing Radiation Exposure

Lead shielding is an important radiation safety principle. In fact, shielding is one of the three basic radiation safety principles. Time, distance and shielding are the primary means of eliminating or reducing ionizing radiation exposure.

Lead Shielding

Shielding should be used wherever it is necessary to reduce or eliminate radiation exposure. There are a variety of types of lead shielding options, the focus of this article will be on radiation eye protection and the use of lead glasses.

Radiation Attenuation 

Appropriate shielding placed between the source of radiation and the worker, radiation is attenuated and exposure may be completely eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level. Lead acts as a barrier to reduce x-ray’s effect by blocking or bouncing particles through a barrier material. Attenuation is the result of interactions between x-ray and matter that include absorption and scatter. Much like lead aprons which are commonly found in x-ray rooms in hospitals, lead glasses reduce radiation exposure and protect the lens of the eye.

Occupational Radiation Exposure Limits

Exposure limits have been established by the Nuclear Regulatory Committee (NRC) and set to a level where apparent injury due to ionizing radiation during a normal lifetime is unlikely. This limit is called the “maximum permissible exposure” and medical personnel should be aware of their occupational radiation dose. These occupational radiation exposure limits have been established to help minimize the amount of radiation a worker receives annually by monitoring their occupational radiation dose and keeping them under the established limits. “The exposure limit for the whole body (5,000 mrem) is lower than that for a single organ because all organs and tissues are exposed in whole body exposure, while only a single organ is involved in the single organ exposure limits¹.”

Lens of Eye (LDE) Radiation Exposure Limit

The occupational exposure limit for the lens of the eye (LDE) is 15,000 millirem or 0.15 Sieverts. The Lens of Eye Dose Equivalent (LDE) 10 CFR 20.1003 “applies to the external exposure of the lens of the eye and is taken as the dose equivalent at tissue depth of 0.3 centimeter (300 mg/cm²).”

Personal Monitoring 

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has requirements regarding personal monitoring devices. Many medical personnel are required to wear an individual monitoring device to measure the dose to the whole body as well as one at an unshielded location closer to the eye to provide an accurate reading of the lens dose equivalent. Wearing lead glasses will help ensure the lenses of the eyes are properly protected from ionizing radiation thereby reducing your risk of developing cataracts.

“Radiation workers who operate x-ray machines, fluoroscopy units, certain unsealed and sealed radioisotopes or are exposed to other sources of gamma or high energy beta radiation are generally required to wear one or more dosimeters².”

Eye Protection: Reducing Tissue Reactions

Tissue reactions, previously referred to as deterministic effects or non-stochastic effects, describe a cause an effect relationship between radiation and some side-effects. There is a threshold dose, once exceeded, the severity of an effect increases with dose. Examples of tissue reactions include skin erythema, which can occur shortly after radiation exposure. Late tissue reactions, particularly those involving the lens of the eye, such as cataracts, can develop long after the initial radiation exposure, but still can be traced back to the original exposure.

Radiation-Associated Cataracts 

Two separate studies published in 2010 reported that interventional cardiology personnel have an increased risk of developing cataracts, a clouding or opacity of the eye that hinders vision. In a recent study, Radiation Cataract Risk In Interventional Cardiology Personnel (October of 2010), Vano et al tested 116 exposed interventional cardiologists, nurses, and technologists for radiation cataracts and compared them to 93 unexposed control personnel. Thirty-eight percent of the cardiologists, with a cumulative median lens dose of 6.0 Sieverts, developed cataracts, compared with 12 percent of the controls. Twenty-one percent of the other medical personnel, who were exposed to a cumulative median lens dose of 1.5 Sieverts, developed radiation-associated lens changes attributed to ionizing radiation exposure.

The second study, Risk For Radiation-Induced Cataract For Staff In Inventional Cardiology: Is there reason for concern? (November 2010)examines the prevalence of radiation-associated lens opacities among interventional cardiologists and nurses and to correlate with background radiation exposure. The results of the study demonstrated a dose dependent increased risk of posterior lens opacities for interventional cardiologists and nurses when radiation protection tools are not used. Although, a study of a larger cohort is needed to confirm these findings, the results suggest ocular radio-protection should be used.

Radiation Eye Protection 

Our eyes are one of our most valuable organs, without properly functioning eyes even the most routine tasks can become extremely difficult to complete. “Eyes are delicate and precious” says Dr. Andrew Lwach, spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. When working near and around ionizing radiation it is important to protect your eyes from potential exposure by wearing lead glasses. Radiation safety glasses, commonly referred to as lead glasses, are designed to protect the lens of the eye by reducing the amount of radiation that is permitted to pass through the leaded glass lenses.

Conclusion 

According to a study, Comparing Strategies For Operator Eye Protection In The Interventional Radiography Suite, published in November of 2010, the “use of leaded glasses alone reduced the lens dose rate by a factor of five to 10.” The operator lens radiation dose rate was recorded with a solid-state dosimeter with nonleaded and leaded (0.75mm lead equivalent) eyeglasses. Lens dose measurements were obtained in right and left 15 degree anterior obliquities with the operator at the upper abdomen and during digital subtraction angiography (two images per second) with the operator at the patient’s groin.

Lead Glasses 

Today, lead glasses come in a wide-variety of styles and configurations including wraparound, goggles, fit over, economy, plastic, metal, and designer frames. For example, metal frames are available with frontal (lens) and lateral radiation(side shields) protection offering 0.75mm and 0.35mm lead (Pb) equivalency respectively.

The industry standard 0.75mm lead equivalency SCHOTT SF6 radiation safety glass lenses provide protection from harmful radiation exposure. The lenses have been tested (CE Certified for Radiation Reducing Eyewear) at 100 kV and have a nominal lead equivalence of 0.75mm Pb and the side shields offer a nominal lead equivalence of 0.35mm Pb at 100 kV. Lead glasses are an essential piece of personal protective equipment that will help reduce the amount of radiation exposure to your eyes.

 

3 Different Types of Radiation Shielding Materials (Part 1)

What are the different types of radiation shielding materials?

Radiation shielding materials are used for a variety of radiologic applications. “The use of radiation in diagnosing and treating patients has significantly advanced the field of medicine and saved or extended countless lives¹.” Advances in technology and more sophisticated applications have improved standard treatments for the benefit of the patient. Radiation use does, however, come with risks. “Those who use radiation must be adequately trained in radiation safety, radiation physics, the biologic effects of radiation, and injury prevention to ensure patient safety¹.” One of the three major principles of mitigating external radiation exposure is shielding, “Using absorber material such as Plexiglas for beta particles and lead for X-rays and gamma rays is an effective way to reduce radiation exposure².”

Radiation Shielding Materials

Historically, radiation shielding materials have been manufactured from lead (Pb). Lead shielding, often used in a variety of applications including diagnostic imaging, radiation therapy, nuclear and industrial shielding. For the purpose of this post, we will focus on the three different types of materials used in manufacturing x-ray attenuating garments such as aprons, vests, and skirts.

Radiation Shielding Materials

Radiation shielding garments are commonly used to protect medical patients and workers from direct and secondary radiation during diagnostic imaging in hospitals, clinics and dental offices³. Historically, the attenuating qualities of lead made it “the element of choice” for radiation protection. However, advances in radiation shielding material technology have produced two alternative materials, lead composite and lead-free radiation shielding. Now medical professionals have several options when it comes to selecting their radiation shielding garments.

Traditional Lead (Pb) Shielding

Lead is a chemical element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable and corrosion-resistant material³. The high density of lead (11.34 grams per cm³) makes it a useful shield against X-ray and gamma-ray radiation. Lead, in its pure form, is brittle and cannot be worn as apparel. To transform pure lead into a wearable radiation shielding material it’s mixed with binders and additives to make a flexible lead vinyl sheet. The lead sheets are then layered to the desired thickness to achieve the required lead equivalency and incorporated into the radiation shielding garment. There are typically three standard levels of lead equivalency protection for traditional lead radiation shielding garments including 0.25mm, 0.35mm and 0.5mm.

Lead (Pb) Composite Shielding

Lead composite shielding is a mixture of lead and other lighter weight metals. These lead-based composite blends are a proprietary mixture of lead and other heavy metals that attenuate radiation. The lead composite blend will vary by manufacturer as they have developed their own proprietary blends that may include a mixture of lead, tin, rubber, PVC vinyl and other proprietary attenuating metals. The lead-based composite blend radiation shielding garments are lighter (up to 25%) than regular grade lead and are available with the same lead equivalency protection levels.

Non-Lead (Pb) and Lead (Pb) Free Shielding

Similar to the proprietary blends of lead-based composite shielding materials the non-lead and lead-free shielding materials offer the same protection levels. Non-lead shielding materials are manufactured with additives and binders mixed with attenuating heavy metals that fall into the same category of materials as lead that also absorb or block radiation. These metals may include tin (Sn), antimony (Sb), tungsten (W) bismuth (Bi) or other elements. Non-lead aprons and lead-free aprons are recyclable and safe for non-hazardous disposal. The material blends are propriety to the specific manufacturer; therefore; the materials mentioned above are not representative of any specific manufacturer.

Benefits of Shielding Options

The three core material options discussed all have their own unique benefits and features. There are several factors you will want to consider when making your decision, including the specific procedure being performed, length of the procedure, and frequency of the procedure. To determine the proper amount of protection required in your working environment contact your radiation safety officer or radiation physicist. Selecting the right radiation shielding garment begins by identifying the core material option right for you.

(Part 2)  How to determine which x-ray apron material is right for you

In our next post, we will discuss how to determine which x-ray apron material is right for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Weekly Wrap For December 9 – December 13, 2013

What Is Electroporation?

Electroporation is the application of an electric current to a living surface (as the skin or a cell membrane) in order to open pores or channels through which something (as a drug or DNA) may pass.  Electroporation or electropermeabilization is usually used in molecular biology as a way of introducing some substance into a cell, such as loading it with a molecular probe, a drug that can change a cell’s function, or a piece of coding DNA.

Freezing Tissue For Frozen Section Diagnosis

When performing a frozen section procedure (also known as cryosection), it’s important to use the appropriate tools and chemicals. Throughout this process an aerosol refrigerant is sprayed to freeze the sample and expedite the freezing process. Frozen section procedures are referred to as pathological laboratory procedures that performed often in oncological surgery.

Whiteboard Wednesday: The Benefits Of Wearing Exam Gloves

This week’s Whiteboard Wednesday we highlight the benefits of wearing medical exam gloves in your facility! Exam gloves are ideal for many reasons, protecting hands from infection and germs, keeping in line with infection control standards, being able to use them in many different types of  procedures and applications, etc.

Featured Product: Chemo Sharps Container

A needlestick from a contaminated sharp has the possibility of leaving a worker infected with HIV, HBV, HCV and other dangerous pathogens. It’s important to appropriately discard sharps in your facility’s designated sharps containers. When selecting sharps containers it’s good to know the type of waste your facility has to discard, the storage area and space limitations and your facility’s state and federal regulations.

Just In Time For The New Year – 2014 Year Labels!

Looking to start 2014 off with an organized office or department? We have a variety of 2014 year labels that will help maintain organization and efficiency in your medical office.

How To Choose The Right Exam Glove Dispenser

Choosing the right exam glove box dispenser is an important step in keeping your medical facility organized and promoting sound infection control practices. Exam glove box dispensers, sometimes referred to as PPE dispensers, eliminate the need to carry exam gloves in pockets, loose in drawers or on countertops. There are several factors to consider when selecting the right exam glove box dispenser. The type of facility and the amount of traffic your facility or department receives are two of the top considerations. The application and location of the dispenser will determine what size capacity is needed, the type of material, mounting orientation and any additional features.

Application

In high traffic locations such as emergency departments, operating rooms and trauma units where exam glove usage is critical, keeping a safe stocking level is crucial to staying compliant with infection control policies.  Selecting a quad or four box exam glove dispenser ensures that your department will always have sufficient inventory on hand at all times. Hospitals with a large number of staff will typically want to choose a quad or triple box exam glove dispenser that can accommodate multiple sizes.  For more specialized infection control applications, the Microban Anti-Microbial exam glove box holder is ideal for use in cleanrooms, hospitals, and microbiological work areas.

Capacity

There are four common exam glove box dispenser configurations: single, double, triple, and quad to meet your facilities needs. Some of the dispensers are designed to be dedicated exam glove box holders while other dispensers, like the FlexHold quad glove/mask holder have been designed to hold various types of PPE supply boxes. There are also specialty exam glove dispenser boxes that incorporate an additional pocket to hold hand sanitizer.

Material

Exam glove box dispensers are available in multiple substrates: acrylic, powder coated steel wire, epoxy coated steel wire, stainless steel, white steel, and high-impact polystyrene. Acrylic dispensers are clear and durable allowing for quick glove identification and easy refilling. The powder coated and epoxy coated wire dispensers feature a see-through construction which allows for easy identification of glove sizes. The durable stainless steel dispensers are long lasting and safe to clean with most bleach solutions. The powder coated steel dispensers offer a durable finish and an open design which allows for easy identification of glove sizes. Dispensers constructed from high impact polystyrene (HIPS) are durable and are resistant to harsh cleaning solutions.

Mounting Orientation

Exam glove box dispensers are available in multiple mounting configurations. Some dispensers are designed with two-way keyholes that allow for a dual mounting option so that the dispenser can be mounted vertically or horizontally. Dispensers may also come with suction cups that allow for mounting on glass surfaces. In addition to the wall mount option, many of the dispensers can also be placed on a counter or tabletop which will keep glove boxes organized and improve the utilization of exam gloves in your facility.

Features 

Unique features may be necessary depending on the specific location and application. Let’s take a look at some of the unique features available. There are Dispensers with locking lids which offer an added level of protection for safely and securely storing exam gloves while still allowing for easy access. Most acrylic dispensers have finger holes located on one end to make refilling quick and easy. There are several types of loading configurations including, top, side, and bottom loading. Some dispensers have spring loaded back flaps that keeps glove boxes up front and firmly in place, preventing smaller boxes from sliding. The FlexHold quad glove/mask holder has a unique bottom loading, adjustable clamp design that adjusts to a variety of different sized PPE boxes including, gloves, mop caps, ear defenders, face masks, and shoe covers.

There are a variety of exam glove dispensers to choose from and that is why it is important to take the criteria listed above into consideration before making your decision. Purchasing exam glove dispensers might seem like a fairly straightforward process but with the amount of options available it can make the decision more difficult then originally anticipated. If you may have any questions regarding how to choose the right exam glove please feel free to leave a comment below or contact us directly at info@universalmedicalinc.com.

PPE Use In Healthcare Settings

PPE or personal protective equipment is defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as “specialized clothing or equipment worn by an employee for protection against infectious materials”. OSHA regulations require the use of PPE in healthcare settings to protect healthcare personnel from exposure to bloodborne pathogens and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Under OSHA guidelines, employers must provide their employees with the appropriate PPE while ensuring that PPE is properly disposed of if disposable, cleaned or laundered, repaired and stored after each use.

Protecting healthcare personnel from infectious disease exposures in the workplace requires a combination of controls. The use of PPE is one of four key components in the hierarchy of healthcare worker safety programs.

  • Training (e.g. policies and procedures)
  • Engineering Controls (e.g. negative pressure rooms)
  • Work Practice Controls (e.g. not recapping needles)
  • Personal Protective Equipment

Although PPE is listed last in the hierarchy of prevention, it is extremely important for protecting healthcare workers from disease transmission. Listed below is a sampling of some commonly found types of PPE found in healthcare settings.

  • Gloves (protect hands)
  • Gowns/aprons (protect skin and clothing)
  • Masks (protect mouth/nose)
  • Respirators (protect respiratory tract from airborne infectious agents)
  • Goggles/glasses (protect eyes)
  • Face shields (protect face, mouth, nose and eyes)
  • Shoe covers (protects from airborne infectious agents)
  • Head covers/bonnets  (protects from airborne infectious agents)

The type of PPE used will vary based on the level of precautions required;  standard and contact, droplet or airborne infection isolation. When selecting PPE it is important to consider three things; type of exposure anticipated, durability and appropriateness for the task, and fit. Remember to always use safe work practices to protect yourself and limit the spread of contamination. Polices may vary by facility, please check with the appropriate department director in your facility for more information.

What Is Breast Cancer?

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month which gives us a chance to help raise awareness about the importance of screening and the early detection of breast cancer. If you or loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, it is important to understand what breast cancer is and how it develops.

To gain a better understanding of breast cancer it is important to understand how any cancer can develop. When genes responsible for regulating the growth of cells and keeping them healthy, mutate or experience abnormal changes, cancer can develop. Genes are found in each cell’s nucleus and when operating normally the cells in our bodies follow an orderly process where the new healthy cells replace the old ones as they die out.  Over time, abnormal changes or mutations can turn on certain genes and turn off others in a cell. When cells experience these mutations, the orderly process of normal cell growth is disrupted and the cells can continue to keep dividing without following the control of order, they produce more of the same cells and ultimately form a tumor.

There are two forms of tumors; benign and malignant tumors. Benign tumors are not dangerous to health or considered cancerous because their cells are close to normal in appearance, slow growing, are not invasive to nearby tissues, and they don’t spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors on the other hand are cancerous and left unchecked the cancerous cells can spread beyond the original tumor to other parts of the body.

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that has developed from cells in the breast. The normal breast is comprised of lobes and lobules (milk-producing glands), milk ducts (tiny tubes that carry the milk from the lobules to the nipple), and the stroma (fatty tissue and connective tissues surrounding the ducts and lobules, blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels). Breast cancer usually begins in the lobules (lobular cancers) or the ducts (ductal cancers), although it can begin in the stromal tissues of the breast.

Breast cancers can spread through the lymph system, this occurs when cancerous cells invade healthy breast tissue and make their way into the underarm lymph nodes (small organs that filter out foreign substances in the body). Once a cancer cell has made it into the lymph nodes, the cancerous cells have a pathway to spread beyond the original tumor and onto other parts of the body. Breast cancer stages (expressed as a number on a scale of 0 through IV) refer to how far the cancerous cells have spread beyond the original tumor.

Genetic abnormalities or a mistake in the genetic material is the cause of breast cancer. Inherited genetic abnormalities are only responsible for 5-10% of cancers, while genetic abnormalities resulting from the aging process and everyday life are responsible for 85-90% of breast cancers.

These are some examples of steps everyone can take for staying as healthy as possible which may have some impact on your risk of getting breast cancer.

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Avoid tobacco products
  • Exercise regularly

While taking these steps to live a healthier lifestyle they may have some impact on your risk of getting breast cancer but they cannot eliminate the risk. Learn more about how you can manage breast cancer risk factors and the importance of monthly breast self-exams (BSE) as well as annual screening tests (mammograms). Johns Hopkins Medical center states “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” Mammograms are important in helping detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you become familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.