How to Shield a Radiation Room
Proper shielding of a radiation room begins with...
Shielding a radiation imaging room in a healthcare facility is a complicated process that should only be performed by highly trained design and construction teams.
X-rays and gamma rays are forms of radiation energy emitted during X-ray and radiation procedures. While they have numerous medical benefits, X-ray radiation can have adverse side effects, including cancer, vomiting, hair loss, and skin loss. Lead has been proven to be an effective barrier against X-ray radiation. Lead’s dense electrons scatter X-ray energy as it enters the metal, preventing it from traveling through the lead and ensuring the safety of those on the other side. Lead barriers can be inserted into a host of materials necessary in medical facilities, such as glass, wall panels, plywood, drywall, doors, window frames, and more. Shielding and X-ray room design is a critical design consideration for any health care facility.
Radiation Imaging Room Protection: A Step-by-Step Guide
Radiation imaging room protection should only be handled by experienced operators.
The first step in the shielding process is to acquire a shielding report from a licensed radiation physicist or local health department.
Radiation Physicist’s Reports
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for shielding a room from the effects of X-ray radiation, and this is why a licensed radiation physicist must provide a report before any work can commence. This report will detail how much lead is needed to protect the room based on a number of parameters. These reports are based on local and state guidelines, as not all municipalities have the same requirements. In addition to laying out the framework for a successful project, the report will also say precisely how much lead is needed so owners can avoid spending too much money on a project while avoiding radiation exposure to others in the facility.
A radiation physicist is a person who ensures quality of care in the use of radiation-producing equipment, and who is in charge of protecting people from radiation. The physicist calibrates radiation therapy equipment, conducts X-ray machine performance surveys, and recommends radiation safety procedures. By calculating a number of factors such as the size of the room and the types of radiation-emitting equipment that will be used inside it, the radiation physicist can recommend the amount of lead to be used in walls, windows, panels, and more.
Typically, the report will list the rooms being shielded, the amount of lead required for each wall and wall component, and how high the lead should reach on each wall. The report will likely contain a sketch of the room, with different areas numbered or letters for reference, with a corresponding chart showing the lead thickness requirement for each portion. The sketch will also show the placement of the imaging machine and an approximation of how radiation will propagate from the machine through the room and beyond.
Radiation Protection Components
There are a number of components that can be used to shield people from radiation. All of these components lead to blocking radiation. In addition to standard leaded components such as doors, windows, and panels, you will likely need to consider:
Electrical box lead backing: Lead-liner that attaches to studs behind electrical boxes
Light fixture lead backing: Lead-liner that attaches to joists behind light fixtures
Ventilation duct lead backing: Lead-liner that attaches to paneling behind ducts
Lead-lined window frames: Lead-lined frame that overlaps around glass and wall
Lead-lined door frames: Lead-lined frame that wraps around door edges and wall
Lead-backed drywall: Gypsum boards laminated with a lead sheet
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