Radiation Blog

The Problem with Gamma Radiation Suits – and the Solution

12.31.18 | Monday | Nofit Amir

Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Fukushima – these names have gone down in our memories as major nuclear incidents that released high levels of radiation into the atmosphere.

There is a 50% chance of another such disaster occurring in the coming years, according to scientists. This means that the time to acquire a radiation shield– specifically, an effective gamma radiation suit – is now.

There are several suits on the market that claim to offer protection against gamma radiation – but those suits do not provide the protection you need in a radiation shield.

StemRad’s 360 Gamma selective shielding system, on the other hand, does provide the radiation protection individuals need. Scientists have conclusively demonstrated that certain parts of the body are more vulnerable to radiation than others – and selectively shielding the organs that are most sensitive affords a much more effective and efficient radiation shield, and the only realistic solution to ensuring protection against gamma radiation.

 atomic nuclear icons

What Makes for an Effective Gamma Radiation Suit?

When a nuclear explosion occurs, radiation – including gamma radiation – is released into the atmosphere. Gamma is just one type of radiation that gets released in such an explosion – alpha and beta radiation is also released – but ensuring protection against gamma radiation is far more important than protection against the other types. Gamma radiation is much higher-energy and has the ability to penetrate far more deeply into the body than the other types – meaning that, without adequate radiation protection, it could be much more damaging.

In order to protect wearers against gamma rays, the American Nuclear Society says that the thickness of a gamma radiation suit needs to be in the range of centimeters of lead. Without that kind of heavy-duty protection, a radiation shield will simply not provide adequate protection against gamma radiation.

The problem with that, of course, is that such radiation shields – even if they did exist – would be far too unwieldy for a rescue worker who needed to be mobile, working to protect victims or repair the damage in a nuclear incident. To provide protection against gamma radiation, a suit would need to be very heavy – greater than 1000 lbs for a 2X protection factor – with this thick protection spread over a very large coverage area. It would be next to impossible for a rescue worker, or for an evacuating civilian, to move around effectively with such a heavy load.

As a result, most of the solutions on the market use much lighter materials that purport to effectively protect wearers against radiation. And they do – against X-rays and other lower-energy types of radiation. But they do not provide effective protection against gamma radiation.

StemRad 360 picture

Why StemRad’s 360 Gamma Solution is Better Than Current Gamma Radiation Suits

If current solutions don’t provide protection against gamma radiation, what does? The answer lies in StemRad’s 360 Gamma selective protection solution. The StemRad 360 Gamma solution provides much more gamma radiation protection than the HAZMAT or CBRN suits available today.

According to OECD/Nuclear Energy Agency, the most important aspect of radiation protection systems is shielding the most sensitive parts of the body – specifically, the bone marrow. “While whole body shielding is inherently heavy, partial body shielding is lighter in weight and selectively shields tissues of increased radiosensitivity (i.e. bone marrow) with substantial amounts of shielding material to protect hematopoietic functions; therefore, potentially preventing the acute health effects of exposure to gamma radiation (i.e. Acute Radiation Syndrome -ARS),” according to the agency.

The StemRad 360 Gamma selective radiation protection solution provides maximum protection to the most sensitive parts of the body – especially the midsection and hip area, where the body’s bone marrow tissue is located. If this area is adequately protected, the danger of radiation sickness plummets, numerous scientific studies have shown – with the system providing maximum protection against gamma radiation, which is the main reason a rescue worker would need a radiation shield.

While the traditional go-to for rescue workers has been the “traditional”  radiation suit, that might not be the best choice for individuals who need to be mobile yet protected. StemRad’s 360 Gamma radiation protection solution, on the other hand, is a sustainable, effective, and easy to use system for protection against gamma radiation. For first responders, rescue workers and other individuals who want to ensure that they are adequately protected, it’s worth checking out the StemRad 360 Gamma solution. Want to read more about the science? See experimental verification and other literature, here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is gamma radiation?

Gamma radiation is the most energetic form of photon radiation, with a shorter wavelength than X-rays. Because this radiation is ionizing, it is hazardous to life.

What causes gamma radiation?

Gamma radiation on Earth is typically produced during radioactive decay of atomic nuclei, but can also be generated by cosmic sources such as solar flares, pulsars, quasars, and supernovae.

What can stop gamma radiation?

The two most important factors in stopping gamma radiation is the shielding material's density and atomic cross-section. The cross-section is effectively the size of the atom's nucleus, with larger nuclei having a greater probability of absorbing a gamma ray. Similarly, a greater density would increase the probability of a gamma ray hitting an atom of the shielding material. Thus, while any amount of mass can stop gamma radiation, high atomic number and high density elements are most efficient.

What materials are best for protecting against gamma radiation?

Use case plays an important role in deciding which material to use for shielding against gamma radiation. Tungsten has a very high density, so it is useful if the shielding material is to be as thin as possible. However, tungsten is expensive and very difficult to machine. Lead is a softer material and more cost effective, only slightly less efficient than tungsten.

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