5 Ways To Minimize Your Occupational Radiation Exposure

Minimizing Occupational Exposure

“The ideal dose is the least amount of radiation possible to produce an acceptable image.”

1. Time

Time is one of the three basic safety measures to reduce external radiation exposure. It is important for healthcare personnel to limit the amount of time spent in close proximity to the radiation source when exposure to the radiation source is possible. Reducing the time of an exposure reduces the effective dose (radiation) proportionally. Consequently, the less time you are around the equipment, the smaller your exposure will be.

2. Notification by Radiation Equipment Operator

Before any treatment or procedure, it is the responsibility of the trained and certified radiation equipment operator to notify healthcare personnel in the x-ray or treatment room prior to the activation of radiation producing equipment (RPE).

Any piece of equipment in which x-rays are produced electrically are classified as radiation producing equipment or RPE. These tools are used in a variety of medical applications including radiography, mammography, computed tomography, and fluoroscopy.

3. Fluoroscopic Procedures

Healthcare personnel performing fluoroscopic procedures must ensure that the patient is kept as close as possible to the image intensifier side of the fluoroscopic unit and away from the tube side of the unit. All healthcare personnel involved in the fluoroscopic procedure must stand on the image intensifier side of the fluoroscopic unit, whenever possible, to reduce the radiation exposure. Standing on the the same side as the image intensifier radiation intensity is decreased.

4. Avoid Direct Beam Exposure

Healthcare personnel assisting with radiological procedures must avoid holding the patient manually during a radiographic study due to the risk of direct beam exposure.  Any individual holding or supporting a person during radiation exposure should wear protective gloves and apron with a minimum of 0.25 millimeters lead equivalent. Under no circumstances should individuals holding or supporting a person’s part of their body be directly in the primary beam. Healthcare personnel must avoid exposing any body parts to direct x-ray beam exposure.

5. Utilize Shielding

Whenever possible, appropriate shielding should be used to provide attenuation of the radiation being delivered to the healthcare personnel who are potentially exposed. Healthcare personnel must keep all body parts out of the direct x-ray beam. There are a variety of shielding options available and may include, but are not limited to:

Specific Shielding Applications

Healthcare personnel who may have to stand with their backs exposed to the radiation beam must wear wrap-around aprons to decrease the risk of radiation exposure.

Bone and Bone Marrow Protection

When healthcare personnel are in close proximity to the radiation beam they should wear an appropriate lead or lead equivalent apron of sufficient length to shield the upper legs and protect the long bones and bone marrow from increased doses of radiation.

Thyroid Protection 

Healthcare personnel must wear a thyroid collar to protect the thyroid whenever the likelihood of the procedure places them at a higher risk of increased exposure.

Female Healthcare Personnel 

Female healthcare personnel must protect their breasts from radiation exposure by utilizing an apron that completely covers the area.

Eye protection

Healthcare personnel must shield the lens of the eye by using leaded eyeglasses with wrap-around side shields or leaded face shields to reduce scatter radiation when it is anticipated that increased fluoroscopic time may be necessary.

Limiting Radiation Exposure 

Reducing radiological exposure in healthcare settings is important for both occupational workers as well as patients. The following guidelines are based on the radiation safety principles of time, distance, and shielding. By following these guidelines, you can reduce your occupational exposure to radiation.

 

 

 

Note: This information included in this post is intended for general reference information only. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice.

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).

7 ALARA Principles For Reducing Radiation Exposure

What is the ALARA Principle? 

ALARA is an acronym used in radiation safety for “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” The ALARA radiation safety principle is based on the minimization of radiation doses and limiting the release of radioactive materials into the environment by employing all “reasonable methods.” ALARA is not only a sound radiation safety principle, but it is a regulatory requirement for all “radiation protection programs.” The ALARA concept is an integral part of all activities that involve the use of radiation or radioactive materials and can help prevent unnecessary exposure as well as overexposure. The three major principles to assist with maintaining doses “As Low As Reasonably Achievable” are time, distance and shielding.

How can you reduce external radiation exposure? 

1. Time

Reducing the time of exposure can directly reduce radiation dose. Dose rate is the total amount of radiation absorbed relative to its biological effect. Dose rate is the rate at which the radiation is absorbed. Limiting the time of radiation exposure will reduce your radiation dose.

2. Distance

Increasing the distance between you and the radiation source you will reduce exposure by the square of the distance. Doubling the distance between your body and the radiation source will divide the radiation exposure by a factor of 4.

3. Shielding 

Lead or lead equivalent shielding for X-rays and gamma rays is an effective way to reduce radiation exposure. There are various types of shielding used in the reduction of radiation exposure including lead aprons, mobile lead shields, lead glasses, and lead barriers. When working in radiation areas it is important to use shielding whenever possible.

How can you reduce internal radiation exposure? 

1. Good Hygiene

Practicing good hygiene and housekeeping habits effectively moderate the internal radiation hazards presented by radionuclides. By eliminating the presence of food and drink in areas where radioactive materials are used or stored, and controlling “hand to mouth” habits, the risk of internal radiation exposure is reduced.

2. Control of Contamination

Labeling radioactive and potentially radioactive areas and items will help prevent the spread of contamination. It is important to control contamination with absorbent papers and spill trays and placing any contaminated item in a properly labeled waste container. When a contamination occurs it is important to promptly decontaminate the area to prevent the spread of the contaminate.

3. Airborne Hazards

Using fume hoods and avoiding dust, aerosol, or volatile gas production can reduce the potential for inhalation of radioactive substances.

4. Use Proper PPE

Using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as disposable gloves, safety glasses, lab coats, etc. will help reduce the possibility of ingestion or absorption of radioactive materials.

It’s very important to understand how to protect your medical staff and patients when working around high frequency radiation and to be aware of ways to reduce the level of radiation exposure. It takes a team effort to successfully implement the ALARA principles.  ALARA should be a routine element of your work in radiological areas.

Whiteboard Wednesday: The Quickship X-Ray Apron

Need an x-ray apron within a few business days? Today on our Whiteboard Wednesday segment we talk about our x-ray apron quickship option! We recommend this option for those in need of an x-ray apron quickly without the need for apron personalization.

 

Lap Guard Apron Offers Radiation Protection

We’ve received a lot of questions regarding the importance of lap shields for radiation protection purposes. Lap guard aprons are commonly used by both patients and technologists for protection against radiation. Oftentimes, lap guard aprons are chosen along with a lead vest to help distribute weight evenly, instead of a full lead apron that can sit heavy on the shoulders.

Lap guard aprons are common in procedures where radiation is present, like interventional procedures and x-ray exams. Patients and technologists wear lap guard aprons to shield the lower portion of their body from harmful radiation, protecting sensitive internal organs.

The Quickship LapGuard Apron is unique as it can ship within 1-2 business days, ideal for those looking for a lap guard apron quickly. This apron is the standard 0.5mm Pb equivalency front protection and comes in a sapphire diamond ripstop color. This particular apron measures 24” wide by 20” long with a 1” adjustable buckle.

Our Male Kilt-Guard is another common lap guard apron designed to be comfortably worn with protection of the lower body. This apron is a wrap around, lead free guard with the standard 0.5mm Pb protection in the front and 0.25mm Pb protection in the back. The waist pad insert allows long-term comfort, is available in multiple sizes and is easy to use with the hook and loop closure with 2” safety buckle. The Female Skirt-Guard is very similar to the male kilt-guard, only designed with the female anatomy in mind.

As always, it’s important to follow your medical facility’s guidelines when it comes to radiation protection. We can’t stress enough how important radiation protection is in the medical field today. If you have any questions or comments regarding this topic, please leave a message in the box below!