A Treatise on Radiation Protection Fabrics

Traditionally, lead used to be considered the only effective element regarding radiation protection clothing. The protection level has been measured in mmPb ever since the first clothes were manufactured. This data shows the protection an element provides compared to a lead plate which would provide the same level of protection. For example, 0.5mmPb means that the fabric in question gives the same protection as if it were 0.5mm thick lead.

Lead still counts as one of the most effective elements regarding radiation protection. However, lead has some serious drawbacks, too.

First of all, lead products are considerably heavy. Wearing lead clothing for a long time burdens the body parts holding the weight (in most cases, the shoulders). Over the years, the frequent wearing of lead clothing may cause health problems. Most lead products are rigid and inflexible, therefore they are uncomfortable to wear.

Moreover, lead is a hazardous material: the regulations of its disposal are strict, which increases the costs in a long term. Each year more than 400,000 kg of toxic lead waste is produced by radiation protection clothing users in the world. Recycling this metal is complicated or impossible in most cases.

Lead can be dangerous during it is worn, too. If a protection shield or suit becomes damaged, some dust of lead may enter the air, which also has toxic effect both on the medical staff and the patients.

New Ways of Protection

To overcome these issues, manufacturers started to develop lead composite fabrics (in which lead is partially replaced by other elements providing radiation protection), and lead-free materials. The first lead-free products appeared in the 1990s.

Modern lead-free radiation protection suits and shields can provide the same level of protection as a lead product can, but they have several advantages over them. The market share of the lead-free products has constantly been increasing, and this is predicted to be an ongoing trend according to the market predictions.

NXR3LF Tru-Lite lead-free Vest-Skirt Shield Apron
NXR1ALF Tru-Lite lead-free Front Shield Apron

Whom is Tru-Lite recommended?

For any medical environment where the staff are exposed to scattered radiation frequently and/or for a long time, including diagnostic methods where real-time imaging is performed.

Some of the most important fields are traumatology, general surgery, orthopedic interventions, urology, cardiology and emergency room services.

Tru-Comfi: A reasonable trade-off

Tru-Comfi is another material cWorld radiation protection products are made from. It belongs to the group of lead composite matters. Tru-Comfi thus contains lead, but in smaller quantity than traditional lead products do.

Therefore, Tru-Comfi products are somewhat lighter than lead-only products, and they are cheaper than lead-free suits and shields. Most cWorld products have a Tru-Lite and Tru-Comfi versions.

Advantages of Tru-Lite

There are certain products on the market in which lead is indeed replaced by an element whose atomic mass is almost the same as that of lead. Products made of these elements are just as heavy as lead ones. Bismuth is a good example for this. In other cases, low-atomic-mass elements – like iron – are used. For reaching the same protection level as a lead product has much more of these fabrics has to be used. In the end the product may be even heavier than a lead one.

In case of Tru-Lite tungsten is used instead of lead. This element has lower atomic mass than lead, yet it provides considerable protection level.

Apart from its weight, Tru-Lite has a number of advantages over traditional lead products:

  • True-Lite products are more flexible than lead protection suits, therefore they are more comfortable
  • It is easy to put them on or take them off due to their design
  • True-Lite does not count as hazardous waste – its material is recyclable
  • Their surface is Water-resistant, it has customizable parts for names or logos
  • Its special inner surface prevents sweating
  • Tru-Lite products have no micro air pockets. (Certain materials used for personal radiation protection contain micro air pockets, which might hold some leftover radiation after use.)
  • Their lifespan is higher than that of lead products

Whom Tru-Comfi is recommended?

Although purchasing Tru-Comfi products is cost-effective, the most important factor is the intended use of the radiation protection products.

Therefore, Tru-Comfi is the best choice for those who have to use radiation protection clothing occasionally only, because their weight is significantly higher than Tru-Lite products.

Lead-free materials do provide sufficient protection in case of the most common applications. However, in certain, less typical environments (e.g. x-ray tubes with very high voltage, about 150kV) are used, their protection may be less than lead products. Tru-Comfi is recommended for those who frequently work with uncommon radiation devices.