Radiation therapy is a vital health service. It is used as a primary cancer treatment for malignant cancers and before bone marrow transplants. Health care employees who work around radiation require personal protective equipment to guard their bodies from the damaging effects of repeated exposure to radiation and x-rays. A variety of different types of protective equipment is available.
X-ray aprons are available in both leaded and lead-free styles. They are no longer the dull grey drape, but are now sold in colorful and unique patterns and fabrics. They are available in a range of sizes and shapes to meet individual needs. Lead-free aprons are friendly to the environment while still providing 0.50 mm radiation protection levels.
Lead gloves protect the hands from scatter-beam radiation and are available in a number of different shapes and sizes to meet varying needs. Gloves are available as large, round open-palm mitts, or as a more fitted glove that offers greater flexibility and allows technologists to perform more delicate tasks. Using gloves every x-ray will reduce the risk of harmful repeat exposures. Lead gloves are available latex-free for people who have allergies. Lead gloves come in both disposable and reusable varieties.
Leaded glasses protect the eyes from x-rays. Eyes are one of the most sensitive body parts and are highly susceptible to damage caused by radiation. Protective eyewear should be worn each and every time an x-ray procedure is performed. Glasses are available in different designs, including wrap-around styles, in men’s and women’s sizes. Prescription protective eyewear is also available, as well as designs that are made to fit over eyeglasses. Lightweight designs are available to make the eyewear more comfortable for all-day wear.
Sometimes eyewear is not enough to protect a healthcare worker from the harmful effects of scatter radiation. When doctors or technologists are repeatedly exposed to high levels of scatter radiation or electromagnetic rays, a lead mask should be worn. Masks are designed to protect from radiation at every angle and provide maximum facial coverage.
The thyroid is a sensitive gland that can be easily damaged by radiation. Damage to the thyroid can set someone up for a lifetime of health problems, so it is important to protect it. Lead thyroid collars and neck shields protect the gland from radiation exposure. A lead neck shield can protect the thyroid from up to 60 percent of electromagnetic waves without affecting a CT image.