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How Much Radiation Shielding Do I Need For My Medical Clinic?

Posted by Mandy Bayman on

How Much Radiation Shielding Do I Need For My Medical Clinic?

Determining what kind of radiation shielding is needed for medical imaging, how thick the material should be and how and where to place the shielding can depend upon the imaging equipment being used, its frequency of use, the building's construction materials, room occupancy, use of adjacent rooms and the layout of the building.
Despite the many local and regional radiation shielding guidelines, translating these regulations for dental and veterinary offices or other medical practices can be confusing and unclear. A commonly asked question is "How much shielding do I need?" Here is a guide to help medical professionals and administrative staff better understand the requirements for radiation shielding in settings where medical imaging procedures are performed.  

Radiation Safety Agencies

Many agencies and governing bodies detail suggestions and requirements for best practices in radiation shielding for medical imaging applications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) along with many medical physics organizations and local and regional governing bodies are just a few that require compliance. This can get complex quick!
Radiation physicists are training professionals in shielding for medical imaging and should be consulted for best results. It is a good idea to have a proper room design done by a radiation physicist that is familiar with the laws of your state or province.

Controlled Areas

A controlled area is a limited access area in which the occupational exposure of personnel to radiation is under the supervision of an individual in charge of radiation protection. This implies that access, occupancy and working conditions are controlled for radiation protection purposes. In facilities that use x-rays for medical imaging, these areas are usually in the immediate areas where x-ray equipment is used, such as x-ray procedure rooms, x-ray control booths or other areas that require control of access, occupancy and working conditions for radiation protection purposes. The workers in these areas are primarily radiologists and radiographers who are specifically trained in the use of ionizing radiation and whose radiation exposure is usually individually monitored.

Medical imaging controlled area

Uncontrolled Areas

Uncontrolled areas for radiation protection purposes are all other areas in the hospital or clinic and the surrounding environments. Note that trained radiology personnel and other employees, as well as members of the general public, frequent many areas near controlled areas such as building hallways, film-reading rooms or rest rooms.

Uncontrolled area

Shielding Controlled and Uncontrolled Areas

Lead and lead-free radiation barriers are a highly effective way to provide a full-body shielding barrier. X-Ray room shielding in various forms is considered to be the most effective way of limiting scattered radiation. Shielding, as the name suggests, is a means to have a barrier that absorbs radiation present between the source of the radiation and the area to be protected. Hence, radiation shielding provides a barrier between the operator and the source of the radiation. 

Lead-free alternatives are also available for radiation shielding, offering equal protection from scatter. Lead-free room shielding is lightweight, non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

Many variations of room shielding are possible due to factors such as room occupancy and radiography equipment, along with your state requirements for radiation protection.

Using leaded drywall, flexible x-ray curtains, leaded glass, mobile barriers, lead-lined doors and other shielding products are methods to shield controlled and uncontrolled areas. Many of these products can be particularly useful in veterinary or dental offices.
Flexible lead and lead-free x-ray curtains

These charts provide guidelines for shielding in your practice for both controlled and uncontrolled areas using the distance from the subject to the barrier and the weekly number of procedures to determine the lead equivalence thickness needed for the application. Controlled areas require thicker lead equivalence shielding than uncontrolled areas.

The calculations were performed per the requirements of National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements Report 147 for Structural Shielding Design for Medical X-Ray Imaging Facilities.

Scatter Radiation Shielding Requirement for Controlled Areas in Veterinary Clinics

Scatter Radiation Shielding Requirement for Controlled Areas in Veterinary Clinics

Professional Shielding Consultation from

As experts in design and certification of x-ray systems, we know how to provide optimized solutions for any application which will be compliant with your national regulations. The experienced staff at can perform shielding calculations for many types of operations, whether utilizing lead or non-lead materials for shielding. Find everything you need on our website, contact us by phone at (832) 519-8787 or by email at We look forward to hearing from you!
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1 comment

  • Hi there. The owner of this one clinic I always visit has been thinking of upgrading some of her equipment. I found it quite intriguing when you pointed out that a specific curtain fabric can be used to hinder any radiation penetration as well. I’ll let her know about this when she makes an acquisition later.

    Amy Saunders on

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