Radiation shielding is an essential feature to our health especially when discussing radiation exposure. Radiation shielding is the method of reducing the power and effects of ionizing radiation by introducing a material that helps to shield or block the harmful rays. People who are frequently exposed to radiation such as radiologists need to be shielded from harmful x-rays, a necessary yet harmful by-product of an important part of their work. This protection from the harmful effects of radiation is also known as radiation assurance and it is the science and practice of shielding people and the environment from the harmful effects from to ionizing radiation.
Despite being harmful, x-rays have found numerous applications in science today. As such, x-rays have found extensive application in military and medical field. To prevent radiation from harming living organisms, however, radiation shielding materials should be used. The materials should have certain properties so as to prevent the rays from penetrating through them. The relationship between the effectiveness of a radiation shield material is directly related to the thickness of material used and the effects of the shield. This means that the thicker the material the better the shielding effect, however, some materials are better prone to shielding than others regardless of thickness.
Density of the material is the most important factor to determining its shielding efficacy. As a matter of fact, all materials can act as shields but what varies is the extent to which they achieve that. Lead and tungsten are the most suitable materials that are used for x-ray shielding due to their density. They work by absorbing the rays and preventing them and preventing them from going to unwanted places, isolating the rays only to the desired location. This is why we often wear lead blankets over our chests when performing dental x-rays, to limit the exposure of the x-ray only to the face and jaw where it is required. Composite materials are the best radiation shielding materials as they are created by combining two materials of different strengths and properties. Despite being a combination of many shielding materials, their efficacy is mainly determined by their thickness.
Radiography rooms where x-ray tests are performed need to be shielded so as to prevent x-rays from leaving the room. The room should have walls made from radiation shielding materials. Equipment used for these tests should also be able to focus the rays on a single point and therefore they are shielded with an adjustable material so as to control the exposed area. If not, then the device would be emitting radiations all over which is very harmful.
The discovery of x-rays in the electromagnetic spectrum revolutionized the medical industry. They can be used to treat and diagnose ailments. Since they can penetrate live tissue, they have been of great importance for internal organs diagnostics and treatments without the need of operating the patient. However, when a person is exposed to x-ray for long hours or frequently, it can lead to health deterioration. Some of the effects that develop after a number of exposures are: change of DNA, cancer and mutation. These are considered to be effects from long term exposure. Some of the short term effects include; radiation poisoning, burns, and radiation sickness. Symptoms that people exhibit after radiation sickness are: nausea, weakness, hair loss and organ failure in some instances. While we depend upon x-ray technologies for numerous health procedures, we must remain conscious of the dangers of radiation exposure and take steps to ensure proper radiation shielding is employed at all times.