How to Choose the Right Lead Equivalence for Your X-Ray Lead Apron

Leaded wear and apparel are designed to attenuate x-ray radiation and protect your body against the harm of radiation. X-ray lead aprons operate as a barrier between your body and the radiation.

While keeping radiation attenuation at its core, xray aprons may come in various designs and styles. Each design and style provide protection for the body’s important organs while also increasing mobility and reducing weight. The right choice of lead equivalence and the suitable lead wear depends on individuals’ needs and work settings.

In this article, we’ll discuss the options so you can choose a suitable x-ray apron with the proper level of radiation shielding.

Selecting the appropriate lead equivalence for your lead apron

Lead equivalence refers to the thickness of lead that provides the same attenuation as the substance in question.

Although standard lead is used as the core material in most radiation aprons, lead equivalence is used as the measuring unit of attenuation power in lead-free aprons.

As the intensity of radiation is attenuated when transmitted through a material, the attenuation ability of a material is inherited to its lead equivalence. Radiation aprons come in two different lead equivalence: 0.25 mm and 0.50 mm.

Lead aprons with 0.25 mm lead equivalence.

This is the minimum lead equivalence for the radiation apron. Professionals and patients exposed to scatter radiation or secondary radiation can use aprons with .25 mm lead equivalence.

Because of their thinner build, radiation aprons with a lead equivalent of 0.
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25 mm are lighter than those with a lead equivalent of 0.50 mm and are considered lightweight aprons. These aprons typically weigh between 2 and 11 pounds.

Radiation aprons with .25 mm lead equivalence attenuate radiation-

  • At 50 kVp – 75%
  • At 100 kVp – 50%

Lead aprons with 0.50 mm lead equivalence

This lead equivalence offers more radiation attenuation and is necessary for radiologists and professionals who have to conduct long x-ray procedures and get prolonged exposure.

Because it is thicker, it can attenuate greater radiation and thus provide more protection when needed. Also, the thickness adds to the weight of lead aprons with this lead equivalence. Generally, these aprons weigh between 3 to 7 kg and are considered a heavier option.

Radiation aprons with 0.50 mm equivalence are able to attenuate radiation-

  • At 50 kVp – 99.9 percent
  • At 100 kVp – 75% percent

There are also some aprons available with a 0.35 mm lead equivalency, and this aprons type’s performance falls between 0.25 mm and 0.50 mm. Still, it is important to be aware that the attenuation provided by .35 mm is sufficient to prevent the radiation depending on the x-ray level of a particular procedure.

Considering the core materials:

there are three types of radiation shielding core materials for lead shielding. Standard lead is the first and well radiation shielding material, which is frequently used in various leaded products. Standard lead aprons are the thickest and heaviest x-ray aprons among all the options, as they are made entirely of lead.

The next material is also a popular choice, which is lead-based composite. These x-ray aprons are made up of a combination of lead and other lightweight radiation-attenuating materials. The benefit of these aprons is they can cut up to 25% of the weight of standard lead-based aprons.

The non-lead or lead-free shielding material, which is manufactured from different types of attenuating metals such as antimony, tin, tungsten, and bismuth, is the final alternative. The benefit of a non-lead or lead-free apron is that they are lightweight and comfortable for long use compared to the 2 other options.

Although there are several core material alternatives and lead equivalency to consider, radiologists and other radiological service workers must always take into account their own personal safety considerations before coming to any conclusion. To sum up, when all the crucial information, for example, x-ray radiation level and exposure time, are identified, then the decision should be made considering the attenuation requirement and suitable core material options.

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