When working with nuclear materials, it is important to protect workers against radiation. Radiation can be a hazard, causing anything from mild skin burns to full-blown radiation sickness. There are materials and methods that have been proven to provide protection against nuclear radiation. At the very least, the process of nuclear shielding can attenuate the effect of the radiation, creating a safe and effective work environment.
Why Do We Need Nuclear Radiation Shielding?
Radiation is a naturally occurring energy source that is present in space. The Earth’s atmosphere acts as natural radiation shielding but radiation has since been recreated here on Earth through man-made processes such as the atomic or nuclear process and is now widely used in numerous fields, from medicine to power generation.
Nuclear radiation exists in various forms – alpha, beta, gamma, neutron, and x-rays – and some are not considered hazards and can be exposed to human bodies with little harm. However, without proper nuclear radiation shielding, the more harmful kinds of radiation, known as ionizing radiation – gamma, x-rays, and neutron radiation – can have disastrous health implications for humans when cumulated over a period of time. Thus, due to the prevalence of such radiation use across industries, the need for nuclear shielding is of paramount importance.
Implementing Radiation Shielding
Being aware of radiation exposure is crucial to negating its harmful effects and beginning the process for nuclear shielding. Most industries incorporating the use of ionizing radiation will use radiation dosimeters to track exposure. As smaller amounts of radiation exposure accumulated over time are what impacts a person’s health, a dosimeter is an extremely important tool to track the amount of radiation a person is exposed to.
Shielding oneself from nuclear radiation requires minimizing the amount of time one is exposed to the source of radiation. Additionally, increasing one’s distance from the radiation will also help reduce radiation exposure. But the most effective method is the employment of nuclear radiation shielding materials.
Materials such as cadmium, concrete, or even water, can lessen the impact of radiation exposure. The thickness or depth of the material that absorbs the radiation decreases the intensity of the radiation’s effect on humans.
The most effective material used in radiation shielding is lead. Due to its high density, its availability, the low cost of the material, and high resistance to damage, lead is the most efficient absorber and thus, the best shielding material. The use of lead sheets and lead bricks within an environment rich with radiation absorbs the radiation and decreases exposure to humans in the area, a term known as ‘biological shielding’. And because of lead’s malleability, lead sheets can be installed within doors in radiation-rich environments, for added radiation shielding.
For your nuclear shielding needs, speak to the professionals at Canada Metal.