Answer to Question #11539 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
We have a mobile veterinary unit with minimal room for hanging storage of lead aprons. Can lead aprons be rolled up and stored on a shelf?
You should follow the recommendations of your lead apron vendor regarding storage. Ideally, lead aprons should be hung on special lead apron hangers. The worst storage choice for lead aprons is to fold them up. An intermediate choice is to store them flat, which is not as good as hanging but is better than folding them. Rolling up lead aprons was not mentioned by the documents I consulted, but it seems that while rolling is not the best storage recommendation, it's also not the worst as you are trying to prevent creases (which can crack the protective material).
You should check your state x-ray regulations to make sure they do not have specific requirements for lead apron storage (I'm not aware of any rules to this effect in the states where I work). If your state does not have any regulations, you'll have to use common sense. Know, however, that storing an apron rolled up is likely to decrease the usable life of the apron, and the apron should be tested more frequently to verify that the shielding integrity has not been diminished. Also, know that storing lead aprons in this manner may void your manufacturer's warranty.
I also recommend that prior to storing lead aprons in this manner, you exhaust all possibilities for hanging or flat storage within the van. I have one client with a similar situation who uses bungee cords to secure lead aprons flat on the surgical table.
Kennith "Duke" Lovins, CHP