Radiation has wide ranging uses in day-to-day life. In medicine, there are many uses for radiation like x-ray, mammography, computerized tomography (CT), cardiology and nuclear medicine. Treatment of disease or cancer by chemotherapy uses radiation.
The wide ranging use of radiation in medicine poses the challenge of shielding radiation exposure to parts of the body other than where where it is intended. Also, doctors, relatives and friends of patients or others who have to be associated with the place where radiation is exposed or radioactive materials are stored or transported need to be protected as well.
Lead has long been recognized as a highly effective material in providing protection from various sources of radiation, and as such, has become a standard in the design of radiation protection systems. Lead shielding refers to the use of lead to shield people or objects from unintended radiation. Lead can effectively contain certain kinds of radiation because of its high density and high atomic number; principally, it is effective at stopping alpha rays, gamma rays, and x-rays.
Why Does Lead Work for Radiation Shielding?
Lead has high density, a result of the combination of its high atomic mass and the relatively small size of its bond lengths and atomic radius. The high atomic mass means that more electrons are needed to maintain a neutral charge and the small bond length and a small atomic radius means that many atoms can be packed into a particular lead structure. Because of lead’s density and large number of electrons, it is well suited for scattering x-rays and gamma-rays. These rays form photons, a type of boson, which impart energy onto electrons when they come into contact.
Lead is used for shielding in:
• X-ray machines
• Nuclear power plants
• Labs using radioactive materials
There are also a variety of shielding products used to protect people, shield equipment and experiments, such as:
• lead aprons
• thyroid shields
• lead gloves
• lead bricks
• leaded glass
• leaded glass sheets
• lead clad building material
• lead laminated panels
• lead sheets
• lead foils
Lead has long been recognized as a highly effective material in providing protection from various sources of radiation, and as such, has become a standard in the design of radiation protection systems. Lead shielding refers to the use of lead to shield people or objects from unintended radiation.