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X-ray Radiation Protection

X-ray Radiation Protection

Date posted: October 6, 2017 // Radiation Protection Glass

It is, to say the least, most unfortunate that the efforts of Wilhelm Röntgen and his contemporary researchers exposed them to a serious risk of which they were unaware. Whilst developing the means to investigate the mysterious rays that would eventually assist doctors to detect fractures and other anomalies normally concealed from view by the surrounding tissues, they often used themselves as demonstration subjects and later suffered some unpleasant consequences

With the dawning realisation that there was a need for protection from X-ray radiation, the quest for a solution began. Produced by bombarding a suitable metal target, commonly tungsten or a tungsten alloy containing 5% rhenium, with an accelerated stream of electrons or protons, the resulting high energy rays are able to penetrate human tissue. In doing so, however, they are also able to induce mutations at a cellular level and while occasional, brief exposures present little hazard, the effects are cumulative.

The implications for the average radiologist who is likely to experience multiple exposures on a daily basis are quite clear. In the absences of effective X-ray radiation protection measures, they are destined to suffer hair loss, blistering and infertility, as well as a greatly increased risk of developing a malignancy.

Protective measures revolve around ways in which to dissipate the high energy levels typical of these penetrative rays and the most effective means to do so is with the use of heavy metals. The dense structure of these metals makes it difficult for incoming particles to avoid colliding with the typically high number of proteins present in their nuclei, and each successive collision acts to shed a little more energy until, eventually, it is all absorbed.

The earliest form of X-ray radiation protection combined thick concrete walls with a rubber apron containing lead sheets worn by operators to reduce the risk of infertility. However, since the operator was required to work behind a lead screen that meant the patient could not be observed during the procedure, there was a need to develop a substance that was both resistant to the rays and transparent. In addition, some means to monitor the effectiveness was necessary.

The latter need was met with the use of badges that reacted to exposure and the science of dosimetry was born. The need to combine X-ray radiation protection with the ability to keep an eye on the patient was then met by the inclusion of sufficient lead in glass panes to absorb the high-energy emissions without affecting its ability to conduct sufficient light.

A leading producer of high-quality, protective glass, products from the German manufacturer Schott are available in South Africa from Labotec Industrial Technologies. For more information, please feel free to contact us today.