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Madurai professor’s eco-friendly alternative to lead apron

In a move which is sure to make waves in the healthcare sector, a professor of Madurai Medical College and Government Rajaji Hospital has designed a low-cost jacket, an alternative to the ‘lead apron’, to be used in x-ray and other radioactive rooms.

Madurai professor’s eco-friendly alternative to lead apron
Senthil Kumar, has been working for over 5 years in designing the x-ray shield


Senthil Kumar, Assistant Professor of Radiology Physics, has been working for over five years in designing the x-ray shield by mixing material with different atomic numbers held together by a common polymer. Speaking about his invention, he said that he had used the combination of Bismuth, Antimony and Barium Sulphate along with polymer. “This is the first time that the chemical combination has been used in India,” Kumar said.

He also said that the newly designed jacket is 25 per cent stronger than lead and 20 per cent lighter. It can also be folded and carried easily, unlike the conventional lead jacket. The new jacket is also environmental friendly as the material is non-toxic and can be recycled into protective clothing. 

Highlighting the layering of the new jacket, he said that since Antimony and Barium Sulphate have low atomic number, they have been used for structuring the front layer. This way, most of the rays would be filtered in the layer. Following that, the Bismuth, which has higher atomic number, even higher than lead, is placed on the backside and even if some of the rays escape the first layer, they would be blocked by the Bismuth layer.

The traditional lead jacket had many drawbacks. They could only be used for two years and cost Rs 80,000. However, the new jacket can last up to four years and costs Rs 10,000. Also, lead is poisonous and when used for a long time could cause cancer for those working in the radiology department, Kumar added.

Kumar bagged the award for best innovation at a National Symposium on Medical Physics organised by Association of Medical Physicists of India at Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital in Pune. He has approached the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board(AERB) for design approval and patent rights.

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