Lightweight Radiation Protection Apparel Offers Key Benefits to Clinicians

November 7, 2019
lightweight aprons

Since scientists first recognized the need for radiation protection from x-rays, lead has been the predominant material used. In healthcare facilities, lead aprons have been effective in protecting patients and medical personnel from unnecessary exposure to radiation. However, the weight of the lead can cause back and leg strain to clinicians during extended procedures. Fortunately, lighter weight protection products are now becoming widely available.

Lead Has Long Been the Material of Choice in Radiation Protection

For over a century, the hazards from ionizing radiation have been recognized. Lead was selected early on as an effective shielding material. Lead was chosen due to its density. Its high atomic number also gives it the ability to block a substantial amount of x-ray radiation successfully. It also has the advantage of being readily available, highly malleable, and a relatively poor conductor of electricity. These attributes make it an excellent choice for use in personal shielding, such as lead aprons, thyroid shields, and lead gloves. On the downside, lead is a hazardous material and must be recycled when apparel is no longer functional. In addition, the sheer weight of lead makes it cumbersome and tiring to wear for long periods of time.

Lead’s Weight Often Equates to Muscle Strain for Wearers

According to a recent study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, frequent use of lead aprons to protect medical professionals from radiation exposure is associated with increased musculoskeletal pain . In particular, the study found, x-ray guided interventional procedures performed by cardiologists and radiologists have become increasingly complex.

As a result, these specialists may have to wear heavy protective lead aprons for extended periods – often four to five hours at a time. In the study of 1,543 cardiology and radiology employees, employees who were required to wear a lead apron reported more work-related pain and sought medical care for pain more often than those in the control group. The researchers found that pain was reported most often by technicians (62%) and nurses (60 %), followed by attending physicians (44%) and trainees (19%).

Lighter, Non-Lead Radiation Protection Apparel Can Help Alleviate Work-Related Pain

While lead continues to be widely used in radiation protection aprons and related apparel, it’s not the only element that offers protection from the harmful effects of x-rays. Non-lead apparel is significantly lighter than its lead counterparts, translating to a two- to five-pound weight differential. While seemingly small, it’s a noticeable difference when professionals are on their feet for hours at a time. It’s also environmentally friendly and typically does not need to be recycled once its useful life is over.

As a leading provider of radiation protection, AliMed offers a wide selection of lightweight lead and lead-free radiation protection aprons and related products. An ultralight lead-free radiation protection apron, for example, uses 100% antimony, making it 36% lighter while offering the same protection as lead aprons.

Featured Protection Aprons

AliMed Grab 'n Go™ Coat Aprons are available in four color-coded sizes and come in four different weights: standard lead, lightweight lead, lead-free, and ultralight lead-free. The aprons provide full front and back coverage, and the shrug-and cinch design relieves pressure from shoulders while the fully adjustable back-saver belt delivers maximum support to the lower lumbar region.

Wolf™ Lightweight Lead-Free Conventional Apron is an economical option that provides light frontal protection. Two adjustable straps cross in the back to ensure a snug fit. It’s available in large or extra-large in a variety of colors and patterns.

AliMed Perfect Fit Aprons offer the greatest flexibility. They are available in three apron weights, 13 styles, and over 400 colors and patterns. Perfect Fit Aprons come with full radiation protection in standard sizes or can be tailored to provide an ideal fit at no additional cost.

To find out more, check out AliMed’s Radiation Protection Aprons Buyer Guide.




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