Answer to Question #11792 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Equipment/Shielding — Lead Aprons

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


I have some old lead aprons at my facility. When I x ray them for annual inspection, they have some wrinkles in the lead. You don't see this on the outside of the apron or shield—the outside integrity is fine—but you can feel it, and it shows on x-ray inspection. Do these wrinkled aprons need to be replaced? Also, what is a good x-ray technique for using computed radiography/direct radiography (CR/DR) to inspect the aprons/shields?


Wrinkles in the lead apron are acceptable as long as you don't see any corresponding lack of shielding in other areas (such as thin spots, tears, cracks, or pulling away from any edges). Think of a blanket that is spread on a bed—if there are wrinkles in the blanket, it is still effective for the area that it covers, but you want to be sure that it has not pulled away from any edges.

If you are using a radiographic x-ray unit to check lead aprons, you should find a technique setting that works well with your CR/DR system and that is not too dark or too light. A good place to start would be about 70 kilovolts potential (kVp) and 5 milliamp seconds (mAs), and you can adjust up or down from there as needed.

Kennith "Duke" Lovins, CHP

Answer posted on 2 November 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.