Shielding properties of lead-free protective clothing and their impact on radiation doses

Med Phys. 2007 Nov;34(11):4270-80. doi: 10.1118/1.2786861.


The shielding properties of two different lead-free materials-tin and a compound of 80% tin and 20% bismuth-for protective clothing are compared with those of lead for three typical x-ray spectra generated at tube voltages of 60, 75, and 120 kV. Three different quantities were used to compare the shielding capability of the different materials: (1) Air-kerma attenuation factors in narrow-beam geometry, (2) air-kerma attenuation factors in broad-beam geometry, and (3) ratios of organ and effective doses in the human body for a whole-body irradiation with a parallel beam directed frontally at the body. The thicknesses of tin (0.45 mm) and the tin/bismuth compound (0.41 mm) to be compared against lead correspond to a lead equivalence value of 0.35 mm for the 75 kV spectrum. The narrow-beam attenuation factors for 0.45 mm tin are 54% and 32% lower than those for 0.35 mm lead for 60 and 120 kV; those for 0.41 mm tin/bismuth are 12% and 32% lower, respectively. The decrease of the broad-beam air-kerma attenuation factors compared to lead is 74%, 46%, and 41% for tin and 42%, 26%, and 33% for tin/bismuth and the spectra at 60, 75, and 120 kV, respectively. Therefore, it is recommended that the characterization of the shielding potential of a material should be done by measurements in broad-beam geometry. Since the secondary radiation that is mainly responsible for the shielding reduction in broad-beam geometry is of low penetrability, only more superficially located organs receive significantly enhanced doses. The increase for the dose to the glandular breast tissue (female) compared to being shielded by lead is 143%, 37%, and 45% when shielded by tin, and 35%, 15%, and 39% when shielded by tin/bismuth for 60, 75, and 120 kV, respectively. The effective dose rises by 60%, 6%, and 38% for tin, and 14%, 3% and, 35% for tin/bismuth shielding, respectively.

MeSH terms

  • Air
  • Bismuth / chemistry
  • Breast / metabolism
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lead*
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Occupational Health
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Protective Clothing*
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Tin / chemistry
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Lead
  • Tin
  • Bismuth