Radiation Shielding Requirements & Protection Guidelines
The basic shielding requirements and protection guidelines for radiation protection products depend on several factors. Essential elements in determining the correct radiation shielding requirements or x-ray shielding protection guidelines include the type of radiation encountered, the length of exposure, and the distance from the source of radiation.
Providing Sufficient Lead Shielding from Different Types of Radiation
While all radiation is caused by unstable atoms, different types of radiation are emitted with different levels of energy behind them. The greater the energy of the radiation, the greater the level of radiation shielding required to safely shield against it. When proper radiation shielding is not provided, radiation can cause burns on the skin and, at high levels, put people at risk of radiation sickness.
Radiation protection products are available to shield against most types of radiation. The most common radiation includes:
- Alpha radiation (α) is comprised of very weak particles that are unable to travel more than a few centimeters when airborne. It requires little radiation shielding. In fact, the outermost layer of human skin is enough to protect against this type of radiation.
- Beta radiation (β) particles can travel farther because of their small mass. It requires more radiation protection, such as heavy clothing or a thick piece of plastic, wood or aluminum. Certain beta radiation particles can penetrate and burn the skin.
- Gamma radiation (γ) consists of photon energy, not particles, and can travel far distances. Effective radiation protection from gamma radiation requires the use of dense radiation protection products such as lead. Gamma rays are biologically hazardous and can cause tissue, bone, and organ damage if proper protection is not used during long periods of exposure.
- X-ray radiation is considerably stronger and has a longer wavelength than other types of radiation. It requires thick, dense x-ray shielding such as lead. Because prolonged x-ray radiation exposure can cause DNA mutations, it is classified as a carcinogen.
What Radiation Protection Products Do You Need?
Radiation shielding is available in varying degrees, ranging from protective vests and leaded glass barriers to rooms constructed with lead lined drywall, lead-lined doors, or lead-lined windows. High energy radiation applications or applications involving nuclear power may also require the use of lead bricks for additional radiation shielding protection.
Though exposure time and distance are the most important factors in calculating the level of radiation protection required for your application, other lead shielding considerations include radiation type, equipment orientation, workload, and occupancy. Always refer to your industry’s radiation shielding guidelines while determining which radiation protection product best suits your needs.
Using Exposure Time to Determine Radiation Shielding Requirements
The longer the time spent near a source of radiation, the greater the level of exposure. Even the briefest direct exposure to gamma and x-ray radiation can be extremely hazardous, and unprotected exposure to any sort of radiation for any length of time should be avoided. Extended indirect exposure to radiation (e.g. an x-ray technician who is in a separate, but nearby, room from the x-ray source for several hours a day) also requires x-ray or radiation shielding to keep personnel safe.
The longer one must be directly or indirectly exposed to radiation, the greater the level of lead radiation shielding required. For example, medical and dental patients experience only brief exposure to x-rays. Therefore, a lead vest for x-ray shielding is a sufficient radiation protection product. However, because an x-ray technician is indirectly exposed to radiation for extended periods, stronger, more substantial lead x-ray shielding is necessary.
Measuring the Distance from the Radiation Source to Calculate Radiation Protection Guidelines
The greater the distance from a source of radiation, the lower the level of exposure. Doubling the distance from the source reduces the level of exposure by a factor of four (i.e. at ten feet from the source, radiation exposure will be 1/4 the level present at five feet). Therefore, the closer to the source of radiation a person is, the more lead radiation shielding protection is required.
Minimum safe distances are affected by the type of alpha, beta, gamma, or x-ray radiation encountered. Alpha and beta particles lack the energy to travel far, while gamma radiation is powerful enough to travel long distances. Always consult with a radiation physicist to ensure you are using the correct calculations to determine your radiation shielding requirements.
Contact Us to Discuss Your X-Ray Shielding & Radiation Protection Guidelines
Radiation Protection Products offers everything you need for effective x-ray shielding, gamma-ray shielding, and other radiation types. Our products include lead-lined walls, lead windows, lead-lined doors, and more. Contact us to discuss your radiation shielding guidelines or request a quote today.