Dangerous side effects of lead aprons

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Dangerous side effects of lead aprons
Lead aprons are used during X-rays and placed over the patient. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Lead aprons are often used in doctor's offices, dental offices and hospitals to protect patients from the dangerous side effects of radiation during an X-ray. Considering the dangers associated with lead in the human body, concerns may arise about whether lead aprons are harmful, especially with consistent use. Lead aprons are not harmful to the patient or technician, because the lead is completely encased and does not get into the body.

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Use of Lead Aprons

Lead aprons prevent the body from absorbing radiation during X-rays. The apron should always cover reproductive organs to prevent infertility. If a woman is pregnant, the lead apron must cover the foetus to prevent birth defects.

Reasons for Concern

Wearing a lead apron poses no danger. The threat to human health with lead is only when ingesting it. Even small amounts of lead taken into the body through food, water, air or paint chips can have negative side effects like irritability, loss of appetite, anaemia, headaches, abdominal pain and damage to the brain or nervous system.

Lead and Children or Pregnant Women

Ingesting lead is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women. A growing body readily absorbs the lead and can have more serious effects from small amounts of lead exposure than an adult. The same is true of pregnant women and the foetus. Lead also transfers from the mother to the growing baby, which can result in birth defects or health problems.

Lead Apron Facts

A lead apron has a 0.3 millimetre thickness, resulting in a heavy apron that absorbs the radiation during X-rays. The apron is placed over the patient's body, but does not require tying because it is thick, heavy and has no-slip applications. This keeps it in place and prevents it from moving. Technicians taking the X-rays may also wear lead aprons during the X-ray procedure.

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