Answer to Question #10899 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Radiation Workers

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

Q

I work at a veterinary clinic and I sometimes have to help take x rays. I was wondering if it is okay to help if I wear a lead apron and if I am trying to conceive.

A

Thank you for your question. If you will be in the room where the x rays are being taken, yes, wear a lead apron.

Wearing a lead apron when you need to be in the room where an x ray is taken is an important way to reduce your radiation dose and, possibly, is a requirement of your state regulations on x-ray use. A lead apron can stop more than 95 percent of the scattered radiation.

If you are not in the room, it is unlikely that a lead apron is needed. While it is important you wear one when necessary, it is also important not to wear one when not needed simply due to the extra weight burden the apron puts on your shoulders, back, and hips.

Another way to reduce your exposure if you have to be in the room, but don't need to be holding the animal, is to step back a few steps from the location where the primary x-ray beam enters the animal. A few steps back from the primary beam can reduce your exposure more than 50 percent.

Kelly Classic
Certified Medical Health Physicist

Ask the Experts is posting answers using only SI (the International System of Units) in accordance with international practice. To convert these to traditional units we have prepared a conversion table. You can also view a diagram to help put the radiation information presented in this question and answer in perspective. Explanations of radiation terms can be found here.
Answer posted on 29 January 2014. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.