Suppose you are visiting a high radiation area, you might find yourself worrying about what level of care to take to prevent or mitigate the risks that come with radiation exposure. The primary precaution will be wearing anti-contamination clothing.
Anti-contamination (anti-C) suits are clothing worn to protect your body from contamination in areas with high radiation. They are also called personal protective equipment (PPE) and are also used in a variety of contexts where protection from virulent pathogens may be necessary. Sometimes these types of clothing may need to be used with other accessories such as respiratory equipment to protect the airways of the body.
Who Needs Anti-Contamination Suits?
Pretty much anyone working in a high radiation field or visiting a high radiation area needs to wear protective clothing. The level and type of anti-contamination clothing required, however, will depend on the level of radiation exposure or the kind of work you are doing in that area. You may need just a lab coat in some cases, and a bit more—such as gloves, boots, bubble suits and so on, in others. The key determiner is the degree of proximity to the source of the radiation.
Despite their efficacy, anti-C’s do not offer protection from every type of radiation or contamination. For more effective protection, including from respiratory threats, you should use anti-C clothing along with respirators and gloves.
Importantly, while alpha and beta radiation are more easily stopped by anti-contamination clothing, anti-Cs do not protect against external gamma radiation. Gamma radiation needs more layers of lead or thicknesses of concrete or similar material to result in a decrease in contamination risk.
Types of Anti-Cs
Anti-contamination suits and clothing come in different types for different areas of the body. They include coveralls, gloves (cotton or rubber), boots and overshoes, head wears, bubble suits with supplied air, etc. As stated already, you may not need all of these as your clothing requirements will depend on the work you will be doing. Some of these items may be reusable while others will need to be disposed of once used.
Some Easy Tips to Remember:
Every time you go to a high radiation plant, you will need to wear some anti-Cs. You should therefore make a note to wear something simple and comfortable so that you will not have to go through a great deal of trouble getting them on or off. Wear shoes that will correctly fit into rubber booties–obviously avoiding heels or dress boots.
Wear cotton outfits. These absorb radioactive gases less effectively than others. With other types of materials, radioactive gases can get trapped in your clothing and get it to look like you are contaminated.
Once provided with your anti-C clothing, be sure to inspect it for tears properly. Damaged protective clothing will not be effective at protecting against radioactivity. If the PPE you are handed is faulty, be sure to report it immediately and ask for a replacement.
Ask for help if you are confused about anything. Many plants or facilities will have instructions or guides for you to follow as to how to wear and safely remove the clothing.