Radiation can be a grave issue not only in commercial centers such as nuclear power plants, medical facilities, and chemical factories, but also in homes and in our daily lives as more and more of the devices we utilize produce radiation. Because radiation can have an adverse effect on the body and mind through its potential toxic rays, preventing radiation from causing harm to workers, customers, and the environment is increasingly important.
Manufacturers of products that emit radiation keep these adverse effects in mind when designing their products and must take care to ensure such products are safe both in production and when used. As a result, a significant emphasis is placed on identifying and utilizing proper radiation shielding materials to keep radiation at bay in such products. When it comes to determining how to effectively shield a radiation source and which radiation shielding materials are best suited for a particular application, there are two major factors to consider which determine the strength of the source, as described by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
As a rule of thumb, the amount of exposure to radiation depends upon the duration of time in which humans are in close proximity to the source. Usually, the exposure time refers to the duration for which a person is near the radiation source. X-rays and gamma rays are examples of radioactive sources, the adverse effects of which can be overcome by minimizing the time of exposure.
The other main variable that determines the degree of radiation exposure is distance; the nearer an individual or object is to a radiation source, the more he or she is exposed to radiation.
The type of energy as well as the activity of the source determines the safe distance at which an individual can be near the source without being a victim of high exposure.
Aside from time and distance, the third factor that influences the amount or effect of radiation exposure is the amount or strength of radiation shielding materials that are utilized.
In general, the more shielding, the lesser the exposure; however, not all shielding materials are created equally. Some materials are better at shielding than others, and for example, one would require a much thinner lead wall than a concrete wall to achieve equivalent shielding for many energy types. A general rule of thumb is that the higher the density of the material, the better it serves as a radiation shielding material.
The quantity of shielding required to protect from various radiation types depends on: the amount and type of energy, time of exposure, distance from the source, and the quality and strength of the selected radiation shielding material.