This is a question that needs to be asked in any veterinary clinic where we find an x-ray machine. Your x-ray protective clothing needs to be verified to ensure the security of the staff when taking x-rays. Health Canada regulates the radioprotection in veterinary clinics for protective clothing.1
Foremost, the obligatory protective clothes to be worm during x-rays are the apron, the mittens or gloves, and the thyroid collar. These three items are considered mandatory to ensure a maximum of security to the concerned staff.
Why should I protect those areas?
When taking X-rays, the parts of the body that are most at risk to the dangers of exposure to X-rays are protected. The thyroid gland, the lungs, and heart are at higher risk of getting cancer. The hands must also be protected as they are directly exposed to radiation in certain situations when it is necessary to hold the animal in place on the X-ray table.
Protective clothing must ensure equivalent attenuation to at least 0.5 mm of lead for voltages of 150 kVp.
The lead equivalent thickness of the material must be permanently and legibly marked on each garment at all times. Otherwise, the protective garment isn’t in conformity.
All clothing must be stored in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations. To prevent lead deterioration, it is recommended to hang clothes on a support designed for this purpose. If heavy objects are placed on protective clothing, there is a risk of cracking the lead.
Verification of your X-ray protective clothing
An x-ray of each garment is highly recommended once a year or when a fault is suspected. This integrity test will ensure that the lead is in perfect condition, that is to say, without any cracks. If this is the case, the radiation can pass through the protective clothing and may reach your organs.
¹ Protective clothing regulations
Protective aprons, gloves, and thyroid shields used for veterinary X-ray examinations must provide attenuation equivalent to at least 0.5 mm of lead at X-ray tube voltages of up to 150 kVp. The equivalent lead thickness of the material used must be permanently and legibly marked on the protective device. Protection must be provided throughout the glove, including fingers and wrist.
Protective aprons, gloves, and thyroid shields must be stored and maintained according to manufacturers’ recommendations. It is also recommended that protective aprons, gloves, and thyroid shields are checked by radiographing them annually or when damage is suspected.