The first thing to know is that not all radiation is harmful. Some forms of radiation, such as power lines, low-frequency microwaves and infrared waves are everyday sources of radiation, but in their low-frequency forms, they are harmless. Other forms of radiation, such as x-rays, atomic weapons energy, and many radioactive elements are considered ionizing. These are harmful because they actually irreversibly alter the DNA blueprints in your cells. Ionizing radiation sources are the kind you want to be wary of, especially if you have a job or career that puts you at risk for elevated radiation exposure.
Garments designed to protect workers from radioactive, contaminated hazards are commonly referred to as “Personal Protective Equipment” (PPE). A “PPE Ensemble” is a set of PPE used together to help protect against hazards. PPE is most often used by first responders and healthcare workers, or by workers cleaning up contaminated areas. Types of PPE include Respiratory protection, eye protection, hearing protection, hand and foot protection, head protection, skin protection, and body protection
No PPE Protects Against All Possible Hazards
How effective are radiation suits? Are hazmat suits radiation-proof? While PPE offers essential protection against contamination, no suit exists to fully protect workers against exposure from high energy, highly penetrating forms of ionizing radiation hazards that can happen during radiation emergencies. Protective clothing can protect against the external contamination that occurs when radioactive material is deposited on skin, hair, or eyes, and the internal contamination resulting from inhalation, ingestion or open wounds. The three principles of radiation protection – justification, time of exposure, dose limitation, and optimization of protection, should be considered in unison with PPE.
PPE Materials are Determined by Risk Level
What are radiation suits made of? Full body protection PPE material can include a cotton/poly blend (for use responding to chemical, biological, radiation and physical hazards), flame-resistant Nomex or other flame resistant cotton (for water or reactive chemicals, large volumes of organic solvents, potentially explosive chemicals) or a polyester barrier (for working around infectious materials.)
One of the challenges of PPE is the management required. PPE can present a safety hazard because of restricted movement and vision, and can create physiological and psychological stressors due to heat stress and risk of dehydration along with the confining nature of PPE suits. The proper fitting of PPE significantly influences its effectiveness–fit testing and training are critical. Training should include how to put on and take off the PPE, potential limitations, maintenance, and proper disposal.
The US Department of Health & Human Services designates four levels of PPE categorized by their level of protection:
- Level A: when the highest level of respiratory, skin, eye and mucous membrane protection is needed
- Level B: when the highest level of respiratory protection is needed, but a lesser level of skin and eye protection is needed
- Level C: when the type of airborne substance is known, concentration measured, criteria for using air-purifying respirators met, and skin and eye exposure is unlikely
- Level D: primarily a work uniform and is used for nuisance contamination only
PPE Can Be Custom Designed
Lancs Industries has manufactured a full line of anti-contamination suits and radiation protective clothing since 1974. We understand your functional needs and worker comfort issues, as well as disposal concerns associated with anti-contamination clothing and protective supplies. All Lancs clothing items with zipped or Velcro closures are designed with over flaps to protect from inadvertent opening. Key stress points are reinforced to prevent tearing and ripping. Generous sizing ensures ease of movement. Lancs only uses materials that are fire retardant and we provide disposable or certified incinerable materials when specified.
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