Chennai: S Senthil Kumar, an Assistant Professor, Radiology Physics at Madurai Medical College, has won the first prize for developing a more effective and less harmful apron, as an alternative to the lead aprons, used for protection from radiation during treatment. The prize came Prof. Senthil’s way in the best paper category, at the Annual Conference of Association of Medical Physicists in India – Western Chapter (AMPICON-WC). The conference took place in Pune in the first week of May.
The new garment developed by Prof. Kumar is supposed to have better longevity than lead aprons. “They can be used continuously for three years, after which it had to be tested for safety. In contrast, lead aprons need annual testing,” said Dr Senthil Kumar.
According to him the garment that he has developed is also a cost effective one, as it costs Rs. 15,000 only, while its lead counterpart goes up to Rs.80,000.
Senthil’s new invention developed out of a combination of materials of different atomic numbers and a common polymer offers 25% more protection and is 20% lighter than the lead based apron. The different materials used for this unique invention are : Bismuth (Bi), Antimony (Sb) – along with Barium Sulphate (BaSO4).
Speaking about the benefits of this new invention, the professor said that though lead has been used for long to protect patients and health care professionals from X-rays, the toxicity of lead had always posed a risk, particularly when worn out, as the lead inside it got damaged.
“On the other hand, Bismuth is not considered a human carcinogen. In relative terms, it is not toxic or did not pose threat to environment,” he highlighted.
Speaking on how he invented his creation he said Bi, Sb and BaSO4 were mixed with a highly elastic polymer and fabricated as thin sheets, which was subsequently turned into a composite bi-layered garment.
The new garment, he proclaims had a longer life than lead aprons. “They can be used continuously for three years, after which it had to be tested for safety. In contrast, lead aprons need annual testing,” he elaborated to the Hindu.
The radiology physics professor was congratulated on his feat by the Dean, GRH, M.R. Vairamuthu Raju, who offered necessary support to Prof Kumar, in his endeavour to obtain a patent, he had applied for with the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.