X-rays are a well known and useful form of electromagnetic rays with numerous useful applications. Invisible to the naked eye, x-rays are used in a myriad of medical treatments. They are used to detect and cure diseases and ailments. Moreover, x-rays give a good view of the internal body and allow medical professionals to make informed diagnoses without requiring the patient to be cut open. It is therefore no surprise that x-rays have become so common and are so useful in the medical industry. While x-rays are an important technology that we utilize in many applications, particularly in healthcare, they are also a known form of radiation. Too much exposure to these rays is dangerous to our health. These rays can be harmful after repeated exposure or even from a single exposure for a prolonged period of time. Moreover, given the proliferation of the technology and its uses, there has been a rise in a number of cases of high intensity x-ray radiation in recent years.
Restricting the X-Ray Exposure
To avoid over-exposure to x-rays— and their associated health risks— there are many provisions which one can use. There are numerous materials which can be used in a variety of forms to limit human exposure to x-rays. These materials work to absorb some of the excess rays and enable humans to undergo x-ray treatments without the risk of total exposure. This process is known as ‘x-ray shielding,’ and these materials are referred to as ‘shielding materials.’
With increasing knowledge regarding the adverse health risks associated with x-ray exposure, governments and corporations are increasing the safety standards surrounding the use of x-rays in order to ensure adequate protection. By utilizing proper radiation shielding materials and methods, the severity of the exposure is significantly mitigated, and we are able to utilize x-ray technology while minimizing or preventing their harmful health effects. X-ray shielding has thus become mandatory for any person or place that utilizes x-ray technology.
Materials Used For X-Ray Shielding
While almost any material can act as a radiation shield to some degree, certainly some materials are better than others at protecting one from radiation. Generally speaking, the efficacy of a shielding material depends upon its density. Lead and tungsten, for example, are two high density metals that are frequently used in x-ray shielding capacities. These materials act to absorb some the rays and prevent them from travelling further.
Composite materials have become extremely viable as shielding materials and in many cases can offer advantages over traditional materials. A composite, by definition, is a material that is created by combining two or more materials or components. The main advantage of a composite is that you can take the strengths and advantages of two or more separate materials and combine them into one new material that features all of those strengths in one. For radiation shielding this can be particularly advantageous because there are several different types of radiation and different materials are required to shield different forms of radiation. Some materials are good at neutron shielding and others are good at gamma shielding. A composite can be created with a blend of these types of materials that creates a new material that can shield both types of radiation. While many materials can be used as effective x-ray shielding, not all are created equal. Nevertheless, the shielding of any material will be affected significantly by its thickness.
In order to perform effective X-ray shielding, structures and parts are manufactured using some of the radiation shielding materials identified above in order to restrict x-rays from passing through them. These parts will surround the x-ray device and focus the x-ray exclusively on the area of concern, while protecting all other directions from x-ray radiation by reducing the emission of the powerful rays.
Where There are X-rays, There Must Be X-ray Shielding
X-ray shielding is absolutely critical in places with regular and high x-ray exposure. These include labs, factories and companies which utilize x-ray technology on a frequent basis. X-rays are used widely in research labs and they are essential to medical education and research sectors. Hence it is vital to understand the risks posed by this useful technology and to take steps to ensure proper radiation shielding materials and methods.