A lead apron is a personal protective equipment used by professionals working in radiological facilities. Lead aprons are designed to attenuate ionizing radiation and work as a shield to protect the wearer from the harmful effect of radiation. Leaded aprons are made from rubber and lead and are available in various designs.
Why should you use a lead apron?
The human body is highly vulnerable to direct radiation exposure. Even a tiny amount of exposure over time can have serious consequences. While cell damage from radiations exposure is a common threat, radiation from X-rays can even harm DNA, RNA, and body proteins.
To stay safe from these harmful consequences, radiological workers must wear a lead apron. Generally, a well-designed lead apron can attenuate 90% of 80 kVp radiation to protect the body.
How to choose a suitable lead apron for you?
Lead aprons come in a wide range of styles to meet the needs of medical professionals. It can be not easy to figure out which lead x-ray apron style is best for you. But if you know the important factors of the selection process, it will be easy to choose the right leaded wear with appropriate radiation protection level.
So, check the following factors before you intend to pick a suitable leaded apron.
Standard lead is the commonly used and most well-known radiation shielding material. Standard lead x-ray aprons are the heaviest lead aprons, as they are made entirely of lead.
The second type of material used in lead shielding is a lead-based composite. Lead composite x-ray aprons are made up of a combination of lead and some other lightweight radiation-attenuating metals. Lead-based composite can reduce up to 25% of the weight compared to normal lead aprons.
And the final option is the lead-free shielding material manufactured from different types of radiation attenuating metals such as antimony, tungsten, tin, barium, etc.
So, among the three abovementioned options, which should you pick? The answer depends on factors like duration, protection requirement, and more.
For example, traditional lead aprons are cost-effective but weigh the most. Because they are heavy, traditional lead aprons are best suited for shorter periods of use. However, this apron is well-suited to give heavy protection against radiation.
On the other hand, the lead composite option offers less weight as the lead is combined with another lightweight attenuating material. These types of lead aprons are suitable for short to medium-duration use.
Lastly, the non-lead radiation attenuation aprons are made of other radiation attenuating materials and are the lightest options available. Generally, these types of aprons are suitable to use in lengthy procedures.
Lead apron coverage options
When deciding the radiation protection type you’ll need for your application, and it’s crucial to know the advantages of each style. Depending on the protection and features, there are various types of the lead apron, which are discussed below-
The major features for frontal protection aprons are closure options, back type, and special applicability. There are three main types of closures for front protective x-ray aprons: buckle closure, strap closure, and hook-and-loop closure.
The special options are lead aprons with a thyroid collar, pregnancy aprons with increased protection over the fetal area, etc.
Protection from the front and back
There are various alternatives available for front and back protection, including full wrap aprons and vest aprons. The following combinations of standard medical lead protection levels are usually available for front and back protective aprons:
- front 0.50mm and back 0.25mm
- front 0.35mm and back 0.25mm
- front 0.25mm and back 0.25mm
Full wrap aprons
Full wrap aprons come in a variety of styles, including complete overwrap, special procedure, and tabard styles, all of which offer optimum protection. During extended procedures, full overwrap aprons provide back support, which decreases tiredness and upper back stress. Aprons for vests and skirts distribute weight evenly between the shoulders and hips, reducing stress on the upper and lower back.
Special procedure lead apron contains Velcro seems, which allow separating the sides of the apron when needed. It is helpful for the operations where bending and sitting are required.
The sleeveless tabard type apron is a single-piece apron with a right shoulder and side velcro clasp for easy access.
Vest aprons give the wearer more flexibility when it comes to sitting, bending, or stooping. Many of the vest sizes can be combined and matched for the best fit and comfort.
So, we’ve covered the crucial factors of leaded aprons, including the material types, lead apron styles and their benefit, and types of protection they offer. Now choose the best-leaded aprons as you need specifically.