How Does Lead Play a Crucial Role in Radiation Protection
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- June 4, 2020
In environments with nuclear energy or experiments, nuclear shielding is essential to protect the professionals working there. Most people, even those outside the industry, know that lead is commonly used in these environments. What’s less understood is exactly how lead provides this essential protection. Here’s a closer understanding of how this works in practice.
The Mechanics Behind Lead Radiation Shielding
One good comparison to make is a person trying to get through a large crowd vs an empty one. If there are no people in the way, you could easily get to the other side quickly. With a crowd, no matter how fast you try to get through, the other people will slow you down. Lead works with a similar principle when it comes to protecting from radiation. It’s extremely dense, and this makes it harder for radiation to get through. Like the person trying to get through that crowd, a lot of the energy is going to be expended trying to get through, rather than to the destination.
However, there are other types of radiation that can get emitted in nuclear settings that aren’t like gamma rays. For example, alpha radiation particles are far slower and have less energy behind them, so you can protect them with cloth. Beta radiation particles have a little more energy behind them, so you will need synthetic fabric. However, you still need goggles, masks, and gloves to protect the most sensitive parts of the body.
How To Best Implement Radiation Shielding
Notably, when it comes to lead radiation shielding, thickness matters. The thicker the lead you have, the larger the “crowd,” to go with our earlier analogy. However, this is hard to manage due to the weight involved. Using thin sheets of lead isn’t a good compromise, as in situations where you need serious nuclear shielding, it’s not going to be enough to get the job done. Remember, there’s a difference between true gamma rays and just radiation particles.
As a result, you want to make sure that you have the right options for the right situations. Lead fortified shelters can protect you in a stationary situation, but for mobile, it’s a bit more difficult to unpack. Some recommend the ideal of selective shielding, where appropriate amounts of lead are used just to protect the most vulnerable parts of the body.
The capacity of lead radiation shielding makes it an essential addition for nuclear settings, or anywhere where radiation is often used. Find the best options for your installation by contacting Canada Metal today.
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