It is a form of clothing used in hospitals to protect against radiation. The apron serves as a mask to protect vital body organs during X-rays or medical imaging. Because of their ability to produce high-quality images, X-rays are widely used in medicine, especially in surgery. The heavy reliance on X-rays endangers medical professionals because the radiations are potentially dangerous. Surgeons are often exposed to pollution due to their proximity to the patient and the source of the radiation. Constant exposure to these radiations will eventually bring harm to them hence a need for protective clothing to shield them. To achieve the shielding, wearing lead protective aprons is recommended (Hyun, Kim, & Kim, 2016).
In the lead apron, the component with a high atomic number and density is lead which enables it to absorb X-rays and offer protection to the wearer efficiently. The apron can prove to be very heavy because of the lead properties, therefore the use of an alternative is inevitable. The lighter weighted lead apron has a K-edge property which will enable it absorb radiations and at the same time remain light for the users (Murphy, Wu, & Glaze, 1993). When X-rays, which is a lighter wave, comes in contact with the lead apron, the energy in it is converted into other less harmful forms in the apron to reduce its effect.
The lead apron should be of 0.25 of 0.5 mm in thickness, each providing protection against radiation at differently. The 0.25 mm lead apron can shield against radiations of about 96% while the 0.5 can shield approximately 98%- 99% of the dose. The apron is made up of a mixture of materials including lead, tin, copper, and yttrium, in different proportions to offer maximum protection. Apart from its use in radiology, lead aprons can also be used in other areas such as in nuclear laboratories to protect workers. They face a higher exposure to radiation of around 140 Kev, which will require an apron that can offer efficient shielding to them against the harmful gamma rays (Murphy, Wu, & Glaze, 1993).
Use in chest x-ray
There is need to protect other body organs against radiations and to minimize the amount of radiations on patients. It, therefore, calls for a need to use lead apron on patients undergoing a chest x-ray. The patients wear lead half aprons for appropriate shielding against radiation. The apron covers from the waist downwards to protect the reproductive organs and the pelvic from radiation exposure. For the medical attendants, the position of the apron is essential, because of scattering radiations, therefore wearing the protective lead apron to cover all the exposed parts can provide more protection. The wearing of the lead apron on the exposed portion has proven to shield against radiation of up to 99% and a reduction in risks of up to 88% compared to those without an apron. (Hyun, Kim, & Kim, 2016)
There is a general increase in the use of radiations in various treatment in the field of medicine including radiography and chemotherapy. Prolonged exposure can, however, bring more negative effects than positive, it is, therefore, vital to have a protective clothing to reduce exposure. Lead aprons are an efficient way of shielding the patients, medical workers and nuclear staff from the harmful radiations from either gamma rays or x-rays. It is, therefore, a requirement that the dose of emissions is minimized as much as possible to reduce any risks associated with it.
Hyun, Seung-Jae; Kim, Ki-Jeong: Jahng, Tae-Ahn; Kim, Hyun-Jib . (2016). Efficiency of lead aprons in blocking radiation − how protective are they? Heliyon, 1-10.
Murphy, P. H., Wu, Y., & Glaze, S. A. (1993). Attenuation Properties of Lead composite Aprons. Medical Physics, 269-272.