Answer to Question #11419 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Radiation Workers

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


Are nonlead aprons such as those made with a bismuth/antimony fill as protective as lead aprons?


A study published in Medical Physics in 2012 shows equivalent or superior protection for an apron made with a bismuth/antimony fill versus regular lead (McCaffrey 2012).

The apron, whether lead or a substitute, should have a label attached indicating lead equivalency (because this is what most states specify for protection purposes). If your state regulators require 0.5 millimeter (mm) lead equivalency, the apron can be made of any material as long as it has the protection factor of at least 0.5 mm of lead. This is how you will know you are meeting the regulations. Check what your regulations require in lead equivalency and make sure the apron you order has that equivalency.

Kelly Classic
Certified Medical Health Physicist

McCaffrey JP, Tessler F, Shen H. Radiation shielding materials and radiation scattering effects for interventional radiology (IR) physicians. Med Phys 39(7):4537–46; 2012.

Answer posted on 22 January 2016. 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.