Purpose: The validity of DIN 6857-1 to establish lead equivalence for protective clothing is evaluated by Monte Carlo simulations and measurements.
Materials and methods: Commercially available protective clothing made of lead, lead-free and lead-composite materials has been tested regarding its protective efficacy. The analysis has been performed on the one hand in accordance with the test conditions described in the manufacturing standard DIN EN 61331-3 and on the other hand following the new DIN 6857-1 standard. Additionally, measurements have been carried out under simulated patient conditions by using an Alderson-Rando phantom.
Results: Following DIN EN 61331-3, the lead-free protective clothing achieved the required protective efficacy only at a restricted tube-voltage range. The test according to DIN 6857-1 showed that the protective criteria were fulfilled only by one lead-composite apron, but not by the three lead-free aprons examined. Thus, in order to guarantee the same protection as lead between 50 and 120 kV, the conditions of DIN 6857-1 must be fulfilled.
Conclusion: A modification of DIN EN 61331-3 to account for secondary radiation is strongly advised in the case of lead-free materials. In summary, most of the protective lead-free aprons in use should be used with care, particularly for examinations with a high dose.
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart * New York.