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Lead & Lead Equivalency

What to know when choosing your core material

“What’s in My Apron?”

The problem with pure lead is that it’s brittle and cannot be worn as apparel in its pure metal form. To solve that issue, lead or lead oxide is mixed with plasticizers or binders, and then rolled out into sheets. It is then sewn into protective garments.x-ray radiation warning sign for lead aprons

As noted before, other metals, such as antimony, tin, tungsten and bismuth, fall into the same category of materials as lead. They also block or absorb radiation. The protective sheeting prepared using any of these metals (or a combination of these metals) also provides protection from X-rays.

The protection provided by the sheeting is compared with that of a piece of pure lead to determine its “Lead Equivalence.” This is typically expressed as “mm Pb.”

For example, let’s say we use a 0.125mm thick sheet of pure lead and determine that it provides 80% attenuation. If lead sheeting prepared by mixing lead powder with binders also provides 80% attenuation, it is said to have a lead equivalence of 0.125mm Pb.

Unless otherwise specified, all Pulse Medical aprons provide 0.5mm Pb at 90 kVp in the front. If back protection is also selected, an additional .25mm Pb is provided.

There are various standards that explain how to measure lead equivalence. But the most simple and common method is to compare the protection provided by a pure lead sheet against that provided by the protective sheeting. Pulse Medical Inc. can provide you with a .5mm Pb sample to use for the comparison. Just contact us for more details.

Choose Your Core

Three types of core materials are available for your apron. Note that all standard Pulse Medical aprons provide the same level of protection regardless of the core material.

Unless otherwise specified, all our aprons are made with .5mm Pb at 90kVp in the front. If back protection is also selected, it provides .25mm Pb at 90kVp.

FEATHERWEIGHT™: This standard lead sheeting is our most economical lead and is a good choice when apron weight is not an issue.

ULTRA-LITE™: Ultra-Lite is approximately 10% lighter than our Featherweight and is more flexible

EARTH-LITE™: This is a lead-free material that uses a mixture of two attenuating elements – antimony and bismuth. It is lightweight and flexible, and provides maximum attenuation in the key diagnostic imaging range of 80-100 kV. Earth-Lite is approximately 12% lighter than our Ultra-Lite. It is also recyclable and safe for non-hazardous disposal.

Ultra-Lite™ and Earth-Lite™ are also offered in 0.35mm Pb options.