While many people know that radiation is extremely dangerous, not everyone knows that it is a dangerous reality that many of us face quite regularly in day to day life. The most common way people can be exposed to large doses of radiation would be to undertake an X-Ray treatment by a doctor. The value of such a procedure, despite the radiation risks it brings, are obvious: x-rays are used as a simpler alternative to surgical interventions which would open the patient so that the doctor could see exactly where and how a certain bone was fractured. It is understandable that some level of radiation is to be absorbed by the human body during this process; however, for this risk to be minimized, protective measures must be employed, so as to protect the patients as well as the medical personnel who conduct the X – Ray scan from the harmful radiation produced by x-ray technologies. These methods and materials are better known as the X-ray shielding techniques, employed widely across the medical field.
Why are X-rays so dangerous?
X-rays, although similar to raw radiation, are much more dangerous, since they operate at much shorter wavelengths which are easily able to pierce through the cells and destroy them much faster. Doctors were performing x-ray scans on patients long before standard x-ray shielding protective measures were developed and implemented. As a result, both patients and doctors alike were exposed to radiation sickness. Radiation sickness occurs because X – rays are in a form which can achieve the so called ‘ionizing radiation’. The way it works is relatively simple to understand. X-rays function similarly to light. When regular light makes contact with an atom of some sort, it doesn’t alter it in any way. But, when an X-ray does the same, it is capable of destroying the electrons of an atom, which makes an ion. An ion is an atom which is electrically charged. Other surrounding electrons become drawn to atoms to create more ions. When an ion makes contacts with cells, it can cause some mutations inside of them. The mutations come as a result of breaking the DNA chains inside of a cell.
How can you be protected from X-rays?
Today, doctors and patients, as well as the room in which X-rays are performed, need to be heavily protected to prevent any adverse exposure of radiation to the patient and the doctor. Both patients and medical personnel are required to wear protective shielding garments, and by default, the room where the X-ray machines are kept needs to be reinforced and protected against radiation as well. Even the smallest of radiation doses can afflict the DNA codes in the cells after a certain amount of time has passed. The nature of the radiation poisoning is cumulative, which means that once the human body is afflicted with radiation, there will be no way to extract it. It will always remain stored within a person who was exposed. Many accessories are used in protection against X-rays. The main one would be a protective apron, accompanied with gloves, protective eyewear, vests and collars. Some of the equipment pieces are made to cover only certain parts of the human body. This makes it easy for patients to protect the parts of their body which will be scanned. To date, the most common material choice by far for radiation shielding has been lead. However, in recent years the medical and regulatory communities have grown increasingly aware of the adverse health effects of lead exposure. As such, newer x-ray shielding solutions have hit the market that are entirely lead free, but that also offer equal radiation shielding protection.