Answer to Question #11184 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
During medical imaging procedures, why is a lead vest worn from the neck to below the reproductive organs? Why is it not necessary to protect from the neck up?
That is an excellent question, and the answer is rather simple. There are no lead aprons on the market that cover the head simply because you cannot see through them. Ideally, the lead apron would cover the entire body; however, covering the head is not practical with typical lead aprons. Compared to the torso, there are no critical organs in the arms and legs, except for bone marrow production in the bones. The femurs in the upper legs produce a significant portion of the bone marrow, and lead aprons typically cover down to the knees. Many lead aprons also include a built-in flap to cover the thyroid in the neck. Typical lead aprons, then, cover all critical organs except for the lens of the eyes. Leaded glasses are available to protect the eyes and are typically used in x-ray rooms where radiation doses tend to be the highest (interventional radiology and cardiac catheterization laboratories).
There is at least one product on the market that is made to cover the entire body down to at least the knees. It consists of a suspended lead apron with a lead glass shield on top. The user stands behind this device and can see through the top and is able to move around with the device in front of him or her.
Kennith "Duke" Lovins, CHP