Completely Nontoxic, Lead-free Radiation Shielding from X-ray, Gamma Ray and Neutron Sources
Posted: May 24, 2014
Radiation has become part and parcel of our life. Our bodies are constantly exposed to radiation due to ubiquitous mobile devices and other technologies. Though a limited amount of radiation is tolerable, when it comes to radiations such as X-Ray, Gamma Ray and Neutron radiation, it is advisable to avoid exposure as these forms of radiationhave been linked to cancer, tissue damage, and other serious health hazards in the human body. As such, radiation shielding is increasingly important in today’s society giventhe growing and widespread use of such technologies and our exposure to them.
The development of radiation protection and shielding standards has occurred gradually over the last century. Although radiation shielding has long been a problem in human history, there were no standards for radiation shielding until 1913. In 1913, the German Radiological Society on X-ray Protection Measures outlined nine steps for protection of radiologists from radiation injury. It wasn’t until 1925, however, that the concept of tolerance dose was introduced. We now understand that there are three major factors that determine the amount, or dose, of radiation received from a source: 1) time of exposure; 2) distance from the source; and 3) radiation shielding. Radiation exposure can be managed through a combination of these factors, and now with this greater understanding along with the advancement in technology, we are able to safely and effectively shield radiation.
Primarily, three types of material are used for radiation shielding - Concrete, Tungsten and Lead. Concrete is mostly used for shielding buildings. But it requires building thick walls for shielding and thus is not a viable solution for shielding devices or instruments. As such, concrete cannot be used for shielding medical instruments. Tungsten can be used for shielding against radiation as it has excellent radiation shielding properties, but it costs $6 per 100g,whereas lead costs $0.02 per 100g. Hence, until now, lead has been the most preferred material for radiation shielding because of its high density, good radiation shielding properties, and its low cost.
X-rays are one of the most common sources of radiation today as x-ray technology is used extensively in the medical communities for monitoring and diagnosing medical conditions. Therefore, X-ray shielding is required to protect various medical products like syringes, containers. Hence, X-ray shielded products such as lead bricks, lead syringe, lead sheets, shipping containers, etc. are produced on a large scale. The major processused to produce lead shielding products tosecure instruments from radiation is lead casting and lead coating. Lead casting is used to produce lead dustbins, lead containers, lead bricks, lead sheets, source shielding containers and more.
The widespread use of lead for x-ray radiation shielding is easily observed. But lead itself poses many threats to the environment as it is hazardous to the environment and human health. Lead is highly toxic and can cause land and water pollution. As a result the disposal of lead has become a significant issue for manufacturers and customers of lead-based products. With the increased awareness of the toxicity of lead, the EPA and regulatory agencies have increased regulation on the harvesting, processing, sale and disposal of lead products, significantly increasing the time and costs associated with handling lead products. As a result, it has become more attractive than ever both from a safety and cost perspective to consider moving towardslead-free material for shielding x-ray and other ionizing radiation sources.
Lead free radiation shielding materialscan be found in Ecomass Technologies. Ecomass Technologies is totally unique in the marketplace. From its inception over 16 years ago, Ecomass Technologieshas been the leading manufacturer of lead free shielding materials for medical industry. These materials can be injection molded into nearly any shape imaginable, eliminating the need for secondary machining and minimizing the shield’s part volume, giving part makers additional design freedom. Ecomass’ lead free shielding materials have helped numerous material processors and OEM’s worldwide to eliminate the need and use of hazardous lead products by developing eco-friendly thermoplastic compounds that provide 100% lead equivalent radiation shielding without any toxic constituents.For many firms, it would be enough but Ecomass Technologies is striving hard to further innovate. Our goal is to relentlessly pursueinnovative methods and materials for radiation shielding purposes and to be recognized as the leader in lead free radiation shielding technology.
Steven J. Stanek usually writes articles and blogs related to industrial Mechanism and Products, In this article he writes about radiation shielding.