Why Lead is the Best Radiation Shielding Material

Did you know you could use just about anything for radiation shielding? Depending on the type of radiation you need protection from, a wide range of materials are available today. However, when it comes to maximum radiation protection, lead is the industry’s preferred material and here is why.

What is Shielding?

Shielding means the material has the ability to stop particles of ionizing radiation. Radioactive material has freed electrons from atomic structures such as atoms or molecules. This creates imbalanced atoms or ions. When these ions move extremely fast, they have the power to penetrate just about anything. X-rays and gamma rays are two good examples of ionizing radiation.

Radiation shielding refers to the resistance a material has to stop ionizing radiation from penetrating. Depending on the type of radiation you have, different types of shielding materials give you the best and most efficient protection.

Material thickness is very important for stopping radioactive particles from penetration. In fact, not just thickness, but the amount of layers making up the protection wall is the most important factor to consider. In fact, the more layers you build up, the greater the barrier you produce. This is known as the halfing thickness factor, and it is dependent upon the materials atomic number.

Lead as a Superior Shield

Due to its high density, lead is one of the best materials for radiation shielding. However, there are three main choices for shielding materials:

  • Traditional – lead sheets specially created by lead manufacturers
  • Composite – lead can be mixed with a number of materials. This can give it special qualities like flexibility.
  • Non-lead materials – heavy metals like tin or tungsten make good shielding materials.

Lead is preferred over other heavy metals because it is the most cost-effective choice. Your lead supplier can show you many options.

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