The ins and outs of radiation shielding

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | October 17, 2022
From the October 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The research team at Alexandria University claimed that the low-density nano bismuth particles have a better mass attenuation coefficient than bulk bismuth, and the result is a lighter and more effective radiation shielding material.

A benefit of this new 3D-printing method is that it allows the user to create shields of the right shape and dimension for any application. Milne explained that customers are more interested in this level of customization.

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“We find that clients all have very specific needs and requirements,” said Milne. “Going to a catalog and ordering off page number 203 is not suitable in most cases.”

It’s now a standard practice for MarShield to customize any of the products they manufacture, including L-blocks, rolling barriers, and custom lead-lined cabinets. Due to recent supply chain issues, they also offer stock base lead cabinets, rolling barriers and other products, but customization can be added where needed.

Although Milne does see a place for lead alternatives in certain circumstances, lead shielding is still his company’s bread and butter. He estimated that it’s used in 99% of their shielding products.

“Pure lead provides the most effective shielding,” he said. “High density and layering allow for high gamma attenuation coefficients and achieve high attenuation ratings relative to other shielding materials.”

He added that lead can be cast, custom-machined, rolled into sheets and impregnated into clear vision glass and acrylic. It can even be coated if a customer is concerned about exposure and can be recycled.

The importance of a physicist
Aside from the shielding material you plan to use, many things need to be taken into consideration when you embark on a new radiation shielding project. According to Bryan Bordeman, operations manager at Global Partners in Shielding Inc., the first thing you should do is ensure you have a physicist on board.

“One of the biggest mistakes is that the customer gets so far down the line before consulting somebody that is familiar with the different modalities and they have to undo things that they did already,” he said.

On one of his recent projects, the customer originally enlisted a group of people in the design phase who gave them inaccurate advice. They wanted to have the room on the first floor of their new two-story building, but Bordeman came onto the scene and found that the ceiling height was too low.

The ground floor is the ideal location since there is only dirt underneath. Because of the low ceiling height, the room had to be moved to a higher floor and shielding needed to be installed in the floor.

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