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Selection and purchasing of lead aprons

13 October, 2017
Lead aprons

Changes in international standards for personal protective equipment has prompted the British Institute of Radiology (BIR) to issue clarification about whether current lead aprons meet new requirements and if they can continue to be bought.

The BIR advice is that we are in a transition period between two standards (BS 2014 which replaced BS 1999) and so aprons can be purchased with certification (CE marking) under either the old or new standard until April 2019, when only the BS 2014 standard will apply. It is understood that new CE garment labelling will indicate which testing standard was applied.

In response to the question "Why would you buy 'old' standard aprons?" BIR says that the weight of aprons is likely to increase. So it may be an advantage both weight-wise and cost-wise to buy old or current products, while they can be sold and are allowed. However, aprons that comply with BS 2014 will have been tested over a range of xray energies which more closely match the scattered radiation encountered in clinical practice than the old standard.

Also, most existing part-lead or lead-free aprons would give less than the specified protection (0.25 mm Pb) under the new standard. The advice is that when selecting and purchasing PPE, you should consider consulting a radiation protection adviser (HSE 2000).

If a department has bought the old aprons, or is considering buying them now, there is no requirement for them to be replaced when the new standard takes effect in April 2019. They may be used until they need replacing because of wear and tear. After April 2019, only aprons which comply with the new standard may be purchased.
  
References
BS 1999. Protective devices against diagnostic medical X-radiation. Protective clothing and protective devices for gonads. BS EN 61331-3:1999
BS 2014. Protective devices against diagnostic medical X-radiation. Part 1 Determination of attenuation properties of materials and Part 3 Protective clothing, eye wear and protective patient shields. BS EN 61331-1:2014 and BS EN 61331-3:2014
EC 1989. Personal protective equipment. EC Directive 89/686/EEC
EC 2016. Personal protective equipment. EC Regulation 2016/425
HSE 2000. Work with ionising radiation. Ionising Radiations Regulations, Approved Code of Practice and Guidance. Health and Safety Executive Publication L121.
SI 2002. The personal protective equipment regulations 2002. Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 1144. London: HMSO

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