Like many medical professionals, you may need to wear a lead apron to shield yourself while giving x-rays. Although these aprons offer you excellent protection from radiation, they have to be properly maintained. If you do not exercise proper care, you can unnecessarily expose yourself to a serious health risk. You and your facility need to establish a quality maintenance routine.

Cleaning Process

Your apron is going to get dirty in a medical facility. You will constantly be exposing it to bodily fluids and everyday dirt and grime. Of course, everything in the hospital or clinic needs to be kept clean and sanitary. You have to be careful when you clean your lead apron or you will compromise its effectiveness. Manufacturers recommend using a cloth dipped in cold water and mild detergent to gently wipe off the fabric. You can not pop these garments into the washing machine, and dry cleaning can also harm the apron. Even autoclaving it is not recommended. Harsh treatment and strong chemicals can weaken the protection the apron offers. 


Everyone agrees that your lead apron should be inspected regularly, but there are differing opinions about how often your should perform this task. Your institution will probably instruct you on the minimum number of times you should inspect your garment, but you can certainly inspect it more often. You should place the apron on a flat surface  and check for tears or rips. Do not forget to examine the closures as well. Any opening allows your body to absorb unnecessary radiation.

You should also touch the entire surface of the apron to check for any lumps or thin spots. An even better method to check for problems is to use a fluoroscope. This instrument will highlight the weak spots in the apron. Alternately, you can also x-ray the apron to identify breaks in the lead lining. Your institution will have guidelines on lead apron replacement. Some small defects may be allowed, so you may not have to replace the garment if it is not perfect. However, a major break or thinning area can compromise your health. 

You can inspect your apron as often as you wish for your peace of mind. However, your institution should have clear standards for lead apron maintenance. You cannot overlook this task without exposing yourself to radiation dangers. Make certain that your apron is in top shape at all times.  For more information on lead products, talk to a professional like Nuclear Lead Co., Inc.