Radiation Shielding Materials
When it comes to providing radiation shielding from every day used devices such as medical / X-ray and airport detection devices there are few alternatives to the metal lead. Lead Virtual Shield Coupon has proven to be the most economic and effective material for protecting humans from radiation producing devices.
Other materials such as concrete are widely used however the thickness required to achieve an equivalent shielding capability to lead are much greater. Thus lead has become the most practical material for radiation shielding solutions.
There is international pressure to minimize or eliminate the use of lead in industrial products from organizations such as ROHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) which started in the European Union. This directive focused on eliminating lead from electronic materials and products however the implications of the directive reach out to any industry using any of the following hazardous substances:
Hexavalent chromium (Cr6+)
Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB)
Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)
It will be very difficult to eliminate the use of lead as a shielding material because there is no suitable material that offers the economic and performance characteristics of lead. Lead is cheap! Currently selling for under one dollar per pound. Compare that to another high density material, tungsten, which offers excellent radiation shielding capacity but at a cost of about $25 per pound! This is cost prohibitive for the Health Care Industry which uses lead to shield X-Rays in virtually all imaging products.
Until a substitute material is developed that meets economically meets the radiation shielding performance of lead, there will be little choice as to which material is selected to provide radiation shielding protection in any given industrial product.
We do not anticipate that a government agency will dictate that the use of lead as a radiation shielding material be banned. Because lead is used so pervasively in industry (automotive car batteries being the largest user) banning it would shut down the medical imaging industry, airport detection systems and many nuclear applications. It is simply not feasible to do so today.