Radiation is very common byproduct of a lot of equipment or machinery utilized today, particularly in the medical and industrial communities. When used for medical purposes, radiation is usually mild and harmless. Of course, there are specific situations when a high level is clearly indicated, and there are times in which the potential benefits of radiation exposure outweigh any potential health risks, as in for example the case of x-rays. However, when used in industrial facilities, the potential for harm as caused by radiation tends to be greater. Additionally, there are different types of radiation which operate differently and which require different materials in order to be protected against. Regardless of the application or intensity of the source, proper radiation shielding protection is critical. All types of radiation can be handled by particular radiation shielding materials, especially when it comes to the workers’ protection. Therefore, as a manager, you need to identify the risks and adopt the right measures according to the local circumstances to ensure a safe workplace.
Becoming familiar with a few different types of radiation
X-ray and gamma rays represent a common type of electromagnetic radiation. Not all forms of electromagnetic radiation are equally dangerous. For example, visible light is as well as ultraviolet light are both the result of electromagnetic waves. The energy levels and radiation from visible light, however, are insignificant and less likely to be very harmful. By contrast, X-rays contain high energy levels, so protection is crucial.
Neutron radiation can be harmful as well, especially since these particles do not really have a charge. They are not positive or negative. Instead, they are neutral. They bring in a high level of energy that needs to be blocked very efficiently, and the materials required to shield against x-rays and neutron sources are different, understandably, as the radiation types themselves are different.
When it comes to less dangerous types of radiation, it seems that alpha or beta particles are among the easiest particles to block. However, alpha particles are simpler to handle because they are positively charged. Beta particles are not, so shielding against them is more challenging. Nevertheless, radiation shielding is unique to each of these situations.
How to select the optimal shielding materials
Materials for radiation shielding need to be selected according to the environment in which they will be used and the radiation source they are intended to shield. The optimal material depends on a wide plethora of elements. Most importantly, their efficiency in attenuating radiation is essential. You also need to consider the long term resistance to potential damages, as well as the actual strength and thermal characteristics. Generally, there are a lot of materials that can match your necessities, but then, you need to consider cost efficiency as well.
Metallic materials might be very helpful against radiation. They are also very durable, but the long term exposure stimulates some changes in their actual properties, so they risk losing their efficiency. On the other hand, concrete is not such a bad idea either. It is inexpensive and durable. The worst part is that high temperatures lower its strength. Besides, it is not so powerful in attenuating electrons.
In conclusion, shielding materials against radiation must be selected with a high level of customization. What works for some industries or companies is not necessarily going to work for everyone else, hence the necessity of proper research.