Lead is one of the best metals to use for protection against radioactive materials. It’s the most commonly used metal in nuclear shielding where it protects people and materials from radioactivity.
Lead is effective in shielding nuclear materials due to its physical properties. It is dense and tough, meaning it can block x-rays and gamma rays from penetrating through the material. When these radioactive waves contact the metal, they collide with the lead atoms and get dispersed. This reduces the energy of these radioactive waves, and therefore, reduces the dangers associated with them.
Alpha and Beta Radiation Particles
Lower energy radiation, such as alpha radiation, can be dispersed using lighter materials. For example, a piece of cloth can block alpha particles. Beta particles are slightly higher in energy, and, as a result, something a little more sturdy must be used to block them.
Alpha and beta radiation particles can be damaging to the human body if ingested or inhaled but these effects are much less severe than the dangerous effects of exposure to gamma radiation.
Gamma radiation is one of the highest-energy forms of radiation, but lead shielding is one of the best ways to prevent gamma rays from causing any harm.
In a nuclear event, it is gamma radiation that gets emitted. This is why such radiation is so dangerous and potentially fatal. Nuclear shielding is necessary to protect humans from the danger of gamma radiation in the event of a nuclear explosion. Radiation shielding can also be used to safely store and dispose of radioactive materials.
Using Lead to Protect Against Radiation
Lead is one of the best options when it comes to blocking radiation. However, its ability to block radiation depends largely on its thickness. A thicker piece of lead can block more high-energy radiation.
Using a thin piece of lead against gamma radiation will be ineffective. This was shown after the tragic nuclear event at Chernobyl, where first responders attempted to protect themselves from the gamma radiation using thin pieces of lead. Most of these first responders did not survive due to inadequate protection against the harmful nuclear radiation in the area.
High-energy radiation is harmful because it causes radiation sickness. This is the destruction of the stem cells in the body and the breakdown of important organs and tissues.
Lead can be used in personal protective equipment as well as in storage facilities for radioactive and nuclear substances. The best materials include a combination of thick and selective lead shielding.
To learn more about the use of lead in nuclear shielding, contact Canada Metal today.