Why steel-framed lead windows are ideal for radiation protection
What is a leaded window, how much do they cost, and are they radiation protected? Discover the answers for your business with this complete and concise guide.
Industries that deal with different types of radiation must abide by strict protection standards and regulations. Even in the lightest doses, radiation has been proven to cause chromosome damage and pose possible health issues later in life, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Creating a safe environment from radiation for staff, patients and citizens is an essential requirement for these specific industries to fulfil. One way to achieve this higher level of safety within facilities such as X-ray rooms and nuclear power plants is to install radiation-shielding steel-framed lead windows.
What is a leaded window?
Leaded windows are a type of glass which contains a percentage of lead within it. Typically, lead replaces calcium with an oxide content ranging between 18 and 40 per cent. “Lead-lined” windows is another term you can align with leaded windows, which applies for more radiation-shielding and protection. Again, the glass contains a leaded percentage but is further lined with lead frames, creating a far denser glass to prevent any harmful exposure to radiation, such as during X-ray or gamma-ray procedures. Common industries where you find these types of windows include:
Windows containing lead can also be referred to as “crystal”, “lead crystal”, and “lead crystal glass”.
Lead crystal dates back over 1,000 years and was used commonly for glassware. However, due to health risks associated with lead poisoning, some crystal glass manufacturers now replace lead oxide with barium oxide, zinc oxide or potassium oxide. The European Union Council Directive 69/494/EEC only considered crystal glass as “crystal” with a minimum of 24% lead oxide, while glass with over 30% can be considered full-lead crystal.
Are leaded glass windows safe against radiation?
Leaded glass is more protective from radiation than other glass types due to the high density of the material. The denser a material, the less impact radiation can have against it. Today, lead glass is considered a vital material for radiation exposure protection. While absorbing X-ray, gamma-ray, and neutron radiation, leaded glass offers mechanical, chemical, and optical properties ideal for specific working environments.
Like lead-lined doors, lead-lined windows are installed in controlled facilities for radiation protection purposes. From hospitals and non-destructive testing (NDT) sites to veterinary, dental and chiropractic practices, you can find various types of leaded windows installed for safety purposes.
Common examples of protective lead windows can be seen in the medical industry, where radioactive shielding glass is used as a screen to protect healthcare workers and researchers during X-ray procedures, such as spectrometers or computer tomography scans.
In the UK, any business or organisation regulating the use of radioactive substances and generators must abide by government guidelines. This includes the following bodies:
- Department for Health
- Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
- Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI)
- Officer for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)
- UK Environment Agencies
For example, X-ray windows in hospitals must fulfil the NHS HTM standards. Many manufacturers build X-ray protective viewing windows from leaded glass for this reason. However, non-lead X-ray windows can also comply with radiation protection regulations.
Industry sectors that employ lead windows for radiation protection
Whether it’s hospitals or dental practices, wherever X-rays regularly operate, necessary protection is required for the radiographer. For example, leaded glass windows protect staff overseeing X-ray or PET scan procedures to ensure they don’t become overly exposed to harmful radiation levels.
The nuclear industry is renowned for regulating significantly high levels of radiation. From nuclear reactors to generators and spent fuel rods, dangerous radiation levels can occur in larger quantities. Therefore, leaded glass windows are required for nuclear workers when safely ensuring all radioactive materials are processed correctly.
Before any building project, architects need to account for any radioactive protection specifics, especially in the case of building X-ray rooms, CT rooms or industrial radiation areas. Size limitations, materials, finishes, RPA suggestions and lead coverage methods are all considerations necessary when designing radioactive protective areas.
Are leaded windows more expensive?
An average price for a leaded window with radioactive protection will cost around £300 minimum. Pricing depends on multiple factors, such as the manufacturer, size, thickness and style. Costs for radioactive shielding lead windows must also factor in specialist design and craftsmanship, ensuring the window meets specific safety standards and regulations. Lead windowpanes can be customised and include additional glazing options, sound insulation, impact resistance and increased radioactive protection. The best style is a steel-framed lead window. Like lead, steel has excellent resistance to gamma radiation.
Speak to quality-assured steel-framed lead window specialists
Raybloc X-Ray Protection is a UK-based industry-leading supplier and manufacturer of lead windows for radioactive protection.
Serving the medical, construction, scientific and nuclear industries with quality approved and regulation certified leaded windows, we appreciate every facility is unique and requires specific protection with lead-lined solutions.
If you require radiation-shielding protection, you can trust our leaded window solutions can keep you and your staff safely protected. To find out more, get in touch today. Our expert team will design, build, and supply the perfect lead-lined window installation for your premises.