Picking the right lead for your radiation protection apron is really limited to three choices. Regular lead, non-lead materials or a hybrid of the two. There are a few things to consider when choosing what’s right for you or your department. First is the most important, and that is attenuation properties. Regular lead has the highest attenuation and on average have a protection value of 96%(+/-) attenuation at 120kVp. Regular lead is the most durable and least prone to cracks, pinholes or degradation. It is also the least expensive lead option among all manufacturers. However, it is also the heaviest choice among the lead options. If you are wearing your radiation protection apron for long periods of time, regular lead is not the best first choice. Other considerations need to be deliberated though. What kVp are you working with on a regular basis, how long do you need to wear it at any given time and do you or your department take care of your radiation protection aprons like the manufacturers say you should. I strongly suggest you to visit lead apron to learn more about this.
If you wear your lead for short periods, budget is a major concern and your staff tends to drape their apron over the back of a chair or it ends up piled high with other aprons, choose regular lead. Hybrid lead is a combination of regular lead and non-lead attenuating materials. The exact mix is generally a well kept secret among the manufacturers as they do not want other manufacturers plagiarizing their core lead abilities. With that in mind, it’s difficult to compare apples to apples when looking at weight and attenuation properties of each manufacturers hybrid lead because their ratio of lead and non-lead materials is unknown. In general, hybrid is approximately 20% lighter and attenuation that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
A case in point, manufacturer A claims 95.4% attenuation at 120kVp for their hybrid lead aprons while manufacturer B claims 96% attenuation at 100kVp. Hybrids have nearly identical warranties as regular lead aprons and take abuse quite well. They are only slightly more expensive and have been by far the most popular choice of lead when clients order radiation protection aprons from us at Kemper Medical, Inc.