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Radiation shielding — experts share tips to get the most value

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | September 11, 2019
Business Affairs
From the September 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

According to Veritas’ Martin, lead is not a structurally sound material on its own and is subject to a phenomenon called Lead Creep. In those cases, a structural cage will typically be required to ensure the lead does not creep over time and collapse.

“You can use concrete instead of lead but need a much, much greater thickness,” said Petrone. “In a new building construction and where land is not expensive, that could be okay and is often a choice, but in a city that becomes problematic.”

But Petrone added that the ultimate solution is to involve all stakeholders upfront in the process. By doing that, you can minimize lead or other shielding by working with architects and physicists to come up with the ideal placement of the radiology equipment.

Rolling shields from MarShield
“A good shielding design by a qualified physicist should occur at the beginning of the process,” said Petrone. “An inexperienced physicist may incorrectly calculate the shielding needs and cost you down the line if there needs to be more shielding places.”

What about radiotherapy?
When it comes to radiotherapy, choosing the right material isn’t as clean cut. NELCO and Veritas don’t have a material of choice because they take into account each project’s unique needs.

“We'll use a myriad materials to meet the customer's needs and budget requirements,” said Miller. “We don't try to jam a product into every project and just say this is what we have and you live with it.”

If the customer has space constraints, then they may use lead since it has the highest shielding value of any material. In other cases, they may use a combination of lead and concrete or lead and the high-density concrete.

“As with most things, there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Martin. “The best shielding material depends on a number of factors including raw material cost, project logistics, difficulty handing and especially the nature of radiation being shielded.”

For radiotherapy, Veritas usually uses its VeriShield system, which involves dry, stacked shielding modules that interlock to form a leak-free therapy room. It’s structural in terms of load bearing, consistent in composition, shape and density, uses space efficiently, attenuates a wide range of ionizing radiation and is modular in nature to provide design flexibility.

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