Lead apron

Dr Daniel J Bell and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Lead aprons are one of the key parts of personal radiation protection equipment along with lead gloves, lead glasses, and thyroid shields.

In medical imaging, there are two main types 1:

  • 0.25 mm lead equivalence
    • weighs 1-5 kg ("lightweight apron")
    • attenuates 75% of the x-ray beam at 50 kVp
    • attenuates 51% of the x-ray beam at 100 kVp
  • 0.5 mm lead equivalence
    • weighs 3-7 kg ("heavy apron") 
    • attenuates 99.9% of the x-ray beam at 50 kVp
    • attenuates 75% of the x-ray beam at 100 kVp

0.35 mm lead equivalent aprons are also in use, with performance between the 0.25 and 0.5 mm lead equivalent aprons. The choice between the different aprons lies between the balance of radiation protection and injury from wearing a heavier apron.

Lead aprons should be stored on appropriate racks, and avoiding folding or creasing as this will crack the lead, and should be tested annually to assess for cracks 2,3.

Physics and imaging technology: x-ray
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Article information

rID: 53243
Section: Physics
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