Extreme X-ray Shielding. What is a “Heavy Lead Project” ?… and what you need to know! 

With new innovation in imaging technology comes new challenges in protecting the user and patient.  Most commonly, lead sheet can be used to protect staff and patients from radiation.  However, sometimes with high powered machines and different procedures, the standard sheeting doesn’t cut it, something much more is required.

Typically, most radiation protection shielding in rooms will include x-ray protective doors and frames, x-ray screen, lead lined wall, floor and ceiling panelling, lead glass windows, and/or mobile x-ray screens.  The level of x-ray protection required is determined during the construction stage by a specialist known as a Radiation Protection Advisor (RPA).

When the new project is being assessed and estimated, an RPA will carry out tests and provide requirements based on the radiation output, the construction, layout, and procedures that will be carried out in the live radiation facility.  Commonly, where radiation shielding is required, lead sheeting will be used.  The sheeting comes in various thicknesses.  In the UK, lead sheeting milled or rolled from lead mills tends to range from Code 3 (1.32mm Pb) to Code 8 (3.55mm Pb).  The RPA will produce an RPA report to forward to either the manufacturer and supplier (Raybloc) or the building contractor.  The manufacturer will then go through the process of heavy duty compounding the lead into the materials such as door sets, panelling, frames, glass, windows etc.

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Some projects however are specified to be above the thickness that is available in sheet lead.  This tends to be known as a “Heavy Lead Project”.  These projects are carried about the specialists in radiation protection (Raybloc) and require a highly precise procedure in manufacturing to assure complete shielding.  A heavy lead project may, for instance, require 15mm of lead protection, although ANY thickness is available.  This has to be incorporated into the complete room design and manufacture process, and of course it needs to be right first time, with no margin for error.

So, how does a heavy lead project work?  Well, firstly it is critical that the design stage of the products used in the project are carefully designed to suit the end use procedures.  The right items then need to be assessed to assure that the items that is as per the architects spec matches that of the RPA’s report, and is fully clearly understood.  Any small misunderstanding in this step can be a disaster in any project, heavy lead or not, which is why it is critical to have this step handled by a radiation shielding specialist manufacturer liaise between authorities, architect, and contractor.

The result is a product that has the total lead equivalence of what is stated in the RPA report, fits perfectly first time, makes the contractors life easier with regulations, is built to last the test of time, and finished to high perfection, not looking like a coal bunker.

All of the team at Raybloc hope that your next “Heavy Lead Project” goes as smoothly as possible, you can assure this by dropping us a line.  Heavy lead or not, we can give you the information you need to get the best for your clients.

Author: Lewis Haydon, Raybloc X-ray Protection Ltd.