The History Of Lead Shields For Radiology

It may seem as if X rays and imaging using various radiation techniques is a relatively new science. However, this is really not the case. In fact, the first X rays were studied and reported in 1895 by a German physicist by the name of Wilhelm Rontgen.

This discovery was based on pre-existing technology. This was the use of Crookes tubes, first is developed in 1875 to create free electrons that were used to further learn about cathode rays. This technology, the use of the Crookes tubes, was also based on earlier research in the 1780s by William Morgan, Humphry Davy, and the very well-known Michael Faraday.

The original use of X rays, at least in the late part of the 1890s, was more to do with the possibility of being able to learn about telepathy and the paranormal. It wasn’t until 1894 that Nikola Tesla began to study and create X-ray images in his own lab. By 1895 Thomas Edison had investigated the use of different fluorescent materials to record the results of X-rays. Interestingly enough, Edison stopped research after his assistant, Clarence Madison Daily, lost both arms to cancer after this individual was known to use his own hands for testing X-ray tubes.

Early Protection

The use of lead shields for radiology wasn’t understood until the early part of the twentieth century. At this time, and through testing, lead was seen to be the superior option for providing protection to both patients as well as staff.

These initial lead shields for radiology were not designed with the technology and precision of today. They tended to use standard thicknesses of material without an understanding of the thickness requirements based on the equipment in use.

In the mid part of the 1940s, additional advances in X-ray equipment created a need for a greater range of lead shields for radiology, particularly for the high energy types of systems in use.

From this came the engineering research and the development of the standards that are in use today. Now, shielding for radiology rooms provides the precise protection for staff and patients that was not possible even a few decades ago.

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