A few months ago, we posted a blog about radioactive careers. Some of them were no-brainers, others were a bit surprising (airline pilots?). Because radiation exposure is cumulative, it’s important that those who work around radioactive materials – or in environments where radiation exposure it a potential threat – are more than adequately protective.
Common Protective Clothing & Shielding for Professionals in Radioactive Environments
Whether you work in a radiologist office, as a Radiation Safety Officer or specialize in interventional radiology, protection is critical when it comes to mitigating your risk of radiation sickness and other harmful side effects of over-exposure.
Don’t take your current or future health lightly, and don’t take your personal safety for granted. Make sure you have access to top-quality radiation protection in the form of clothing and shielding.
- Rolling and stationary shielding. If you work around X-rays and other radiation-based imaging technology, you’re particularly prone to scatter radiation. Radiation shielding is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from these scattered particles. These specialized shields, made predominantly from lead, absorb any radioactive particles in their path, without allowing them to pass through.
Rolling and stationary shielding, also called wheeled racks, offer both permanent and temporary shielding options. These are effective in doctors, dentists and other medical offices. Rolling shields offer significant flexibility as they can be relocated, moved and angled according to a specific task and room occupancy. This type of shielding is also effective in low-cost clinics or mobile clinics, where services are offered intermittently or where site locations may be more susceptible to change.
- Temporary shielding options. Do you work with a mobile unit or hop from site-to-site to provide medical care to more transient or low-income populations? While rolling shielding options are one solution, they can be cumbersome if your clinic only exists for a few days or hours at a time before you move on to the next spot. If that’s the case for your company or clinic, you’ll be more interested in QuickRack Solutions. Lancs Industries makes a Quick Racks product that is a handy addition to your ALARA toolbox. This particular shield can be used as a shadow shield around a worker. The Quick Rack can also be usedto create a shield around a particular radiation source as well. Best of all, it requires only minutes to assemble and break down.
- Protect thyself. Now we get down to the nitty-gritty in terms of your body and your personal space. The lead apron your employer provides you may be enough. However, as mentioned above, scatter radiation presents a bit of a problem as it could potentially absorb into uncovered areas of your body, i.e. your eyes, your head/face/neck or any areas below the waist, including your legs, ankles and so on. Make sure you are wearing radiation-protective clothing and gear that makes sense for the task at hand.
Examples include things like:
—Leaded glasses. While medical professionals such as orthopedists are recommended to wear leaded glasses to protect them from procedures using radioactive materials, few actually do so. Unfortunately, this leaves the vulnerable to developing cataracts. Studies show that the use of protective leaded glasses can reduce radiation exposure to the eyes by as much as 90%.
—Skull caps. Lead-lined skull caps are being worn more and more by cardiologists and interventional radiologists due to their ability to protect the head area from scatter radiation. When absorbed by the head, face and neck – radiation exposure puts these professionals at a higher risk of brain and other types of cancers. Many in the field feel their suspended leaded acrylic shield is enough – but wouldn’t it be better to err on the side of caution?
—Thyroid collars. Where the apron stops, exposure begins – and this is where thyroid collars come into play. Interestingly enough, research has shown that exposure to radiation – even consistent low-doses – increases the risk of changes to the thyroid, in terms of both thyroid function as well as benign tumors. The combination of a lead apron, thyroid shield and lead glasses will significantly reduce one’s exposure to radiation – scatter and otherwise.
Do you work in an environment that puts you at risk for radiation sickness? It might be time to up the ante in terms of radiation protection and shielding. High-quality radiation shielding comes in pre-fabricated as well as custom designed options, so you can have the exact type of protection you want.
Contact us here at Lancs Industries to learn more.
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