Modern hospitals almost always contain dedicated radiology units that provide X-ray or CT scan services to the visiting patients. Since radiations emitted by X-ray or CT scan equipment poses health hazards, it is important to shield the walls of radiation rooms to prevent damage to individuals present in hospitals. Hospital staff remains exposed to such radiations persistently, and for this reason their health is always on threat.
To overcome this health hazard and to minimize the effects of radiation on humans, the walls of radiology units are always shielded using Lead sheets. Lead sheets come in various sizes and thicknesses, and the choice of Lead sheet depends upon the source of radiation (i.e. type of equipment; CT Scanner, X-ray or other).
For almost all practical purposes, the following specifications of Lead Sheets are utilized in healthcare setups across Pakistan:
- 8ft x 4ft (1mm thickness, 35kg approx; +/- 3kg )
- 8ft x 4ft (1.5mm thickness, 55kg approx; +/- 3kg )
- 8ft x 4ft (2mm thickness, 70kg approx; +/- 4kg )
- 8ft x 4ft (2.5mm thickness, 90kg approx; +/- 5kg )
- 8ft x 4ft (3mm thickness, 110kg approx; +/- 5kg )
A comparison of Shielding properties of different materials
A commonly asked question is "how much protection is offered by common building materials"?
For an X-ray source emitting radiation at 100 kVp (broad beam), the following equivalences provide idea about the protection offered by various building materials:
- In radiology units where CT scanner is not installed, the thickness of lead sheets should not be less than 1mm (at 100 kVp).
- In radiology units where a CT Scanner is installed, the thickness of Lead shielding should never be less than 1.5mm. The more the thickness, the better the protection – hence Lead sheets of 2mm thickness are recommended.
- During installation, spaces should not be left between adjacent Lead sheets; instead, the sheets should overlap each other to prevent radiation leakage.
- Starting from the floor, the height of Lead shielding should not be less than 2 meters. Moreover this shield should be continuous without any gaps between the sheets.
- Doors of radiology units where CT scanners are installed should have at least 1.39kg/sq-ft lead.
- Lead-glass used in Fluoroscopy units should not be less than 6mm thick (which correspond to 1.5mm lead thickness).
- Solid concrete provides optimum radiation shielding if it is at least 150mm thick. If the thickness of concrete is less than 150mm, Lead sheets should be installed to ensure protection between floors of multi-storey buildings.
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