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The ins and outs of radiation shielding

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

That would double the radiation dose hitting the walls, which means the shielding would no longer be effective. It can be an easy thing to avoid because the business owner likely won’t want to pay for another report and the cost of potentially adding more shielding.

Lastly, a facility could change how a room is used. For instance, the X-ray room could initially be next to a storage room, but if they eventually remodel and change it into an employee lounge, the shield won’t be effective anymore.

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In Colorado, where Atom Physics is located, an inspector is required to visit a site annually to view the shielding design. If there was a remodel, that’s when the inspector would find out about it.

Remodeling that takes place within the CT or X-ray room can also damage the integrity of the shield. The shield will be fine if a nail is hammered into the wall and stays there, but problems arise if the nail is removed.

Even if you use putty to seal the hole in the drywall, there will still be a hole in the shield. Evearitt stressed that if you are doing any type of remodeling, someone needs to oversee the shielding portion.

"Like any kind of remodeling work or anything that's done to a room, you should have the shielding reevaluated,” he added. “That can include putting a new furnace in, redoing the duct work or electrical things like cutting out and putting outlets in the wall."

Have a clear delivery plan
MarShield’s Milne wished customers were better prepared for the delivery of the shielding products. Lead is very heavy at 700 pounds per cubic foot and getting it to an upper floor can be difficult if there isn’t a clear plan.

“Accessibility plays a big part in planning and receiving the shielding products as some facilities are multiple levels and that can be challenging,” he said. “Pre-planning with the contractor and/or the facility goes a long way to provide a seamless delivery and installation process.”

This is especially a concern when shielding a radiation therapy room. There needs to be a clear delivery plan for the heavy cementitious-based shielding materials, linear accelerators and other equipment.

“If the installation of these items is slated for a level with a basement below, there needs to be consideration of this delivery route,” said Robert J. Farrell, CEO of Veritas Medical Solutions. “The delivery floor may need to be supported from below along the delivery path, or an alternate route may need to be considered, given the weights involved.”

For a new construction site, a crane can be used to deliver the shielding materials to the right floor. If it’s an existing building and the radiation therapy room is planned for a third or fourth floor, there will usually be access to a freight elevator.

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