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.

Featured Product: FlexHold Quad Universal Glove/Mask Box Holder

Looking for a glove box holder that can hold different sized boxes? The FlexHold Quad Glove/Mask Box Holder was designed to hold various sized and types of PPE supplies. Many glove box dispensers and holders in the industry can only accommodate certain sized boxes, but this unique design can hold various sizes making it easier to purchase glove and mask boxes.

The adjustable holding points give you the true flexibility to hold up to four different boxed protective products and other lab essentials (size dependent). Ideal for holding different boxed sizes of gloves, mop caps, ear defenders, face masks, shoe covers etc. Displaying glove and mask box holders throughout your medical facility is essential to increase the use of certain PPE supplies. 


  • Holds any box size
  • Holds 1 to 4 boxes
  • Adjustable universal fit
  • Easy to clean
  • Wall-or door-mountable
  • Low profile wall mount
  • Mounting hardware included
  • Made in USA
  • Unit Measures: 6″ W x 30″ H x 3″ D


Have any questions or comments about this featured product? Make sure to let us know in the comment box below.

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.

The 2014 year labels – PMA fluorescent pink are a laminated, permanent adhesive that comes in a roll of 500.

With professional 2014 year labels, your medical facility can maintain organization with patient documents, medical records, calendar appointments, etc. A few key features these year labels offer:

  • Vibrant color options
  • Permanent adhesives
  • Easy to read/identify

It’s very important that your facility’s year labels are available to use so you can accurately label important information. Do you have your 2014 year labels yet?

Sharps Containers: Preventing Sharps Injuries With Proper Disposal

Sharps injuries are a very serious matter in healthcare facilities. According to the CDC, they estimate that about 385,000 sharps-related injuries occur yearly among medical workers in hospitals. Careful handling of contaminated sharps can reduce the risk of infection for hospital workers.

A sharps container is simply a container that is filled with used medical needles, scalpels or any small sharp medical instruments. According to OSHA, containers for contaminated sharps must be puncture-resistant. The sides and the bottom must be leakproof. They must be appropriately labeled or color-coded red to warn everyone that the contents are hazardous.

What can you do to prevent sharps injuries?

  • Utilize appropriate sharps containers in your work environment.
  • Dispose sharps with care (keep fingers away from opening of the container, do not overfill the sharps containers, follow safety guidelines when disposing sharps).
  • Recapping a used needle prior to placing into sharps containers.
  • Dispose sharps immediately after use, or as soon as possible.

The 1 Gallon Red Sharps Container has a locking screw cap and needle keyhole to provide safe, one hand sharps disposal. This particular unit is puncture-resistant and can be used freestanding or mounted onto metal cabinets and stands.

Sharps containers are a must-have for sharps disposal! If you have any questions or comments regarding sharps containers please let us know in the box below.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Are You Wearing The Right Sized Exam Gloves?

Did you know that it’s essential to wear the right sized protective equipment in your medical setting? Exam gloves are worn daily by many medical professionals and it’s very important these exam gloves fit.

Hand protection is key during routine patient exams, procedures and handling sick patients. It’s important for medical personnel to know the right size exam gloves to use at work. First, you must decide which type of exam glove to use. This can include natural rubber latex, vinyl, nitrile, latex free gloves, etc. Once you have determined the type of exam glove, proper sizing is crucial.

If you have exam gloves that are too big, they can easily be pulled off or liquids can make its way inside the glove. This can also be distracting to the wearer. If you have exam gloves that are too tight, it can cause fatigue and decrease dexterity. The images to the right indicate a pair of exam gloves that are (A) too loose, (B) too tight and (C ) a good fit.

To make sure you’re wearing a pair of the right sized exam gloves, you’ll want to measure your hands. You want to measure around the knuckles of your dominant hand (above the V of your thumb). If you have a measurement of 8 inches, you would wear a size 8 glove or perhaps an 8 ½ to be safe. Many glove brands convert number sizes into XS, S, M, L and XL sizes. See the chart below for recommended sizing conversions: *Measurements are for guidance purposes only. Please consult your glove manufacturer  for their recommended sizing.

Men’s Measurements6” - 7”7” - 8”8”- 9”9”- 10”10” - 11”
Women’s Measurements6”- 6 ½” 6 ½” - 7”7” - 7 ½” 7 ½” - 8”8” - 8 ½”
Remember, the fit of your exam gloves can affect your job performance. It’s important to wear the proper sized exam glove that fits your hand, proper glove sizing is key. If you have any questions or comments on selecting the right glove size, please let us know below!

Why Are Papoose Boards Important?

Papoose boards are important for both dental and medical procedures. These boards help temporarily stabilize a patient and limit their ability for movement. Papoose boards are really a safety measure to prevent patient injury during important procedures.

Did you know these boards were radiolucent? Our papoose boards are metal free and can be used in radiology departments. Constructed of a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) these papoose boards are durable and completely radiolucent. There are many papoose boards on the market that contain metal, which will negatively alter data during a diagnostic imaging procedure. Our papoose boards will not artifact your image during an x-ray exam and will safely restrain a patient during this time.

Papoose boards were designed with the intention to be used for children who cannot keep still due to a disorder or have the inability to follow instructions. Our boards are designed in multiple sizes including an adult size. The available sizes include small (infants 3-24 months), regular (2-5 years old), large (6-12 years old) and extra large (teenager-adult). All sizes are MRI safe, latex free and have hanging holes for easy storage. Each set is complete with the following: 1 board, 1 padded three tier flap set, 1 padded head strap and 4 arm/wrist straps.

There are alternatives to using papoose boards, which usually involves sedation. Many physicians and medical professionals will agree that restraining a child on a board is safer than giving patients strong medication.

Keep in mind that papoose boards are designed to ensure safety for patients who cannot be immobilized without restraints. If you have any comments or questions regarding our papoose boards, please let us know in the comment box below!

Educating Patients Through Anatomical Models And Charts

Anatomical models and charts can offer great benefits for both medical personnel and patients. With a wide selection of charts and models, you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for to help inform patients through visual concept.

The human body is complex and varied in that its made up of sophisticated organs and functionalities. Because there are so many diseases, injuries, and illnesses that can affect specific areas of the body, physicians try to explain and articulate information to patients as clearly as possible.

We have a large variety of anatomical education charts and anatomy model designs. Within this broad range of anatomical charts includes: brain and head, ear nose and throat, female and male anatomy, immune system, skin anatomy, vascular system, dental anatomical, extremities, general health, joint, muscle, spine and vertebrae, digestive, heart, lung, skeletal and urinary system charts. Within the selection of anatomical models: alternative medicine, veterinary, brain anatomy, dental, digestive, ear nose and throat, exercise and diet education, extremity anatomy, female and male anatomy, head and skull, heart, immune system and cancer, joint, medical art, medical training, muscle, respiratory, skeleton anatomical, skin and dermatology, spine anatomical, torso anatomy, vascular system and urinary models.

Without a medical background, you might not know where the thoracic vertebrae is located. By showing a patient a full spine model that highlights five sections of the spinal cord it will offer more information for simplified patient education. This model can also be used for lessons in a classroom environment where the didactic colors help to immediately differentiate the full spinal cord, even from a distance.

How better to educate your patients with visual anatomy charts and models? With detailed, high-quality charts and models it’s easier to explain specific areas of the body to patients, especially areas of injury or illness. Are you currently using the power of visual communication with your patients? Let us know if you have any questions or comments in the box below! Find the right anatomical model for your specific application by visiting our e-commerce website.



Using Loupe Light For Dental Or Surgical Procedures

In both dental and surgical applications it’s common to find medical professionals utilizing attachable light sources on their loupes. The right amount of loupe light can be an essential component to any medical application. With a clear view, a doctor can perform procedures and exams thoroughly and safely.

An attachable clip-on light typically generates light from a source that can be easily clipped-on or stored nearby. Some surgical models are designed in that the cord from the light source runs from a tabletop or wall-mounted platform. Both designs will work, it really just depends on the type of procedure and how your medical environment is set up.

It’s important to keep in mind that a good light source can be essential during your medical application. Without proper loupe light, medical professionals can sometimes make an oversight when scrutinizing a patient. Loupes, in general, help determine a better diagnosis for patients and loupe light is an additional benefit during these applications. For many dentists, an attachable loupe light is a crucial component in performing precision dentistry. Dentists and dental assistants can often block the overhead light when examining a patient. Loupe lights allow dentists to focus light onto a particular spot in the patient’s mouth, without shining an uncomfortable bright light into the patient’s eyes.

The benefits of using an added light source includes the ability to clearly see the precise area of the patient. With this clear visibility, doctor’s can use best practices as they keep their patient safe and provide excellent patient care. If you have any questions or comments regarding loupe light, please let us know in the comment box below!

Finding The Right Surgical And Dental Loupes

Are you trying to select the right pair of surgical and dental loupes for your medical setting? This post will help you better understand these loupes and a few guidelines to follow when selecting the right pair for you.

It’s common for dentists and surgeons to wear loupes throughout a procedure or exam that requires a close view. Surgical and dental loupes will allow the physician or dentist to better see inside a patient’s mouth or body part while having both hands free. The following are four important factors to consider when selecting the right pair of surgical or dental loupes.

1. Working Distance
It is important to determine your correct working distance. Working distance is the space between the eyes and the work area. It is recommended to measure the working distance in the actual setting you will be using the loupes in. It’s important to keep your back straight, head only slightly dipped so you’re viewing the specific area and your feet should be flat on the floor. You can then simply measure (with a measuring tape) from the bridge of your nose to the specific area you will be working on. One of the most common problems in many clinical applications is that the working distance is measured too short, resulting in unnecessary neck strain.

2. Depth of Field
After measuring the working distance, it is important to understand how the depth of field works. The depth of the field is the visible range in focus offered by the loupe. For example, a pair of loupes has a distance of 18 inches and a depth of 5.5 inches. This means that your pair of loupes will stay in focus in a distance of 15.25 inches to 20.75 inches or 2.75 inches on both sides of the working distance range.

3. Field of View

The field of view is simply the working space you are able to visibly see through your loupes. It is important to note that the working distance and field of view go hand in hand. For example, a longer working distance will equate to a larger field of view.

4. Magnification
When looking through a pair of loupes, the size of the image depends on the magnification. A higher magnification amount results in a larger image, but reduces the depth of field and field of view. Typically the level of magnification depends on the preference of the person wearing the loupe. In dentistry, it is common to find 2.5x – 3.5x magnification on dental loupes.

It’s important to identify and understand these factors before selecting your surgical and dental loupes. Be sure to check out our Selecting Dental Loupes video below for additional information. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.