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X-Ray Shield History

X-rays were first studied and documented in the year 1895 by Wilhelm Röntgen, a German physicist. However, earlier scientists were aware that X-rays existed, just not in the form that we now use them. They were first formally noted through the use of crookes tubes in 1875, when cathode rays were discovered and studied. It is likely that the use of photograph plates in attempting to document other types of electron research actually contributed to the understanding of X-rays, since the photographic plates were affected by the X-rays, which led to an increase in research as to the cause of these shadow images.

The danger of X-rays without and x-ray shield was also apparent in the very earliest of research. Thomas Edison studied X-rays, but took little care in shielding either himself or his workers from the radiation. At least one of Thomas Edison's assistants, a man named Clarence Dally, died from testing X-ray tubes on his hands. He developed a cancer that was so devastating that both of his arms were amputated before his death in 1903.

Other scientists, namely British scientist Russell Reynolds and Americans Frank Austin and Gilman and Edwin Frost, started to use X-rays in medical applications. The first X-ray was used to show a fractured wrist, which was quite the accomplishment. It was not until the early part of the 1900s that the technology for medical X-rays was used for radiation therapy. Many of the early scientists did not use an x-ray shield during their study. Unfortunately for the researcher, Major John Hall-Edwards, his research led to the amputation of his left arm because of a condition known as X-ray dermatitis.

Currently the danger of X-rays and the need for an X-ray shield in any application were X-rays are used is now common knowledge. According to the World Health Organization and the United States Government Health Regulations, X-rays are classified as carcinogens. Without a proper X-ray shield, a person is in a very high danger. It is estimated that approximately 0.4% of all diagnosed cancer is due to exposure to X-rays, typically in CT scans and medical applications. While there is background radiation all around us, these intense bursts of X-rays, especially repeated over time, pose the highest risk for cancers and other health complications.

Lead is the best known form of X-ray shield, and with increased understanding of the required density of the lead shields, virtually complete protection can be provided to those that work with X-rays or those that are required to have X-rays. Depending on the peak voltage of the X-ray production equipment the lead thickness will vary. The lowest X-ray voltage of 75 kV has the lowest requirement for a lead X-ray shield at 1.0mm. The higher peak voltage of 900 kV requires a lead shielding thickness of 51.0 mm.

X-ray shield options now come in a variety of styles and types. There are highly portable x-ray shield dividers with windows to easily view patients or equipment. There are also x-ray aprons, and specialized glasses that work as an x-ray shield and protect the eyes from exposure to any type of radiation in any type of medical, research or industrial application. Having the right safety equipment to limit exposure to even small amounts of radiation is essential in both long and short exposure times.


MSEC remains dedicated to providing the very best and the very latest in medical supplies and equipment.  We never cease to be on the lookout for the latest innovation that will benefit both our many clients and the patients they dedicate their lives to caring for.  If you have any difficulty finding your choices in our vast inventory, call our customer service at 1-877-706-4480 to speed up your order or to make a special request.  We are always happy to help you.

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