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What is a RAD? Everything You Need To Know

Radiation is around us all the time. There are naturally occurring sources, such as energetic particles from the sun and stars, known as “cosmic radiation.” There is anthropomorphic or human-made radiation, which presents different concerns.

If you work in manufacturing, nuclear, medical, or other industries that deal with radiation, you may be wondering how to detect and measure it. This is where RAD comes in.

What is a RAD? Keep reading to find out how this measurement is used to gauge the level of radiation exposure to materials, including humans.

This article also includes some additional information about radiation detection and prevention. It can help you create a safer, more secure workplace for you and your staff.

What Is Radioactivity?

Radioactivity is the spontaneous emission of radiation. This happens when an unstable atomic nuclear gives up energy to shift to a more stable state. Modern physics has studied this dynamic for the last 125 years. 

As mentioned, there is natural radiation throughout the universe. It is also prevalent in some substances, like uranium and plutonium, which makes them prime candidates for nuclear power generation. Radiation can transfer to almost any other material, including water, soil, and clothing.  

Radioactivity is also the measure of ionizing radiation released by different materials. There are distinct types of radiation, but the sheer amount released is measured by two units. The higher this number, the more radiation a substance is releasing.

In the U.S., this metric is curies (Ci) or picocuries (pCi), which are one-trillionth of a curie. The international measurement is becquerels (Bq). 

What Is a RAD?

In many industrial or scientific situations, it is important to measure the amount of radiation that exists in different materials. While we talked about measurements for the amount of radiation that is released, there also are metrics for measuring how much radiation is absorbed. The basic one is RAD.

What is a RAD? “RAD” stands for “radiation absorbed dose.” Often, the condensed term “absorbed dose” is used to refer to the same metric.

As ionizing radiation, including gamma rays and X-rays, passes through materials, they deposit energy. This happens as the radiation interacts with the material’s atoms and molecules.

In humans, this dynamic can cause damage or other biological effects. These impacts depend on the amount of radiation as well as the parts of the body it permeates, such as muscles, bones, or organs.

RAD is the amount of radiation absorbed in a set volume of material, including objects or persons. Said another way, it is the amount of energy that radioactive sources deposit in a material as it passes through it.

An absorbed dose of 1 RAD means that 1 gram of material absorbed 100 ergs of radiation. RAD is often expressed in units of gray (Gy), the international measurement. One Gy is equivalent to 100 RAD.

What Is Radiation Dose?

Radiation dose is a very complex topic. That is because there are different types of radiation and units for measuring it.

Think of radiation as skin exposure to the sun. The effects depend on the exposure to the rays and the intensity of the light, not sheer quantity.

Radiation from medical examinations, nuclear processes, or manufacturing operations is very similar. Doses are measured by three distinct radiation metrics: effective, equivalent, and RAD.

Equivalent dose is the amount of biological damage expected based on the amount and type of radiation. Radiation absorbed dose, or RAD is the sheer potential for biochemical changes in specific tissues exposed to radiation.

Since all radiation is different, the equivalent dose can vary even when comparing two similar absorbed doses. Said another way, absorbed dose tells us the level of energy in a set volume of material. An equivalent dose addresses the impact of that dose based on the type of radiation.

Finally, an effective dose allows you to assess the potential for long-term effects from radiation exposure. It takes into account the absorbed dose to all materials or tissue, as well as the relative harm based on those levels. It also considers the sensitivities each tissue or material has to the radiation.

How Do Manufacturers Stop Radiation?

Different materials can be used to shield against radiation. The shielding option best for your business depends on the type of radiation, including the specific procedures being performed. The first step in doing so is determining the core material option for your manufacturing processes.

Lead Shielding

Lead has been a prominent shielding material in nuclear and industrial operations, due to its ability to block gamma and X-rays. It is widespread in medical diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy as well.

Radiation shielding garments, such as lead aprons, help protect workers from direct and secondary radiation. In its rawest form, lead is brittle. Additives, including binders, make it flexible and formable into a vinyl sheet.

Typically, lead sheets are layered to achieve the desired level of protection. Standard widths are 0.25 millimeters (mm), 0.35mm, and 0.5mm.

Lead has the benefit of being corrosion-resistant as well. It also is soft and malleable, which makes it conducive to forming different shapes and configurations for shielding garments.

Innovations in manufacturing have produced alternatives to lead: lead composite and lead-free shielding.

Lead Composite and Non-Lead Shielding

Lead composite shielding is a mixture of lead and another lighter material. Examples include tin, PVC vinyl, and rubber. This can make garments up to a quarter lighter than their lead counterparts while offering the same level of protection.

Non-lead shielding uses a mixture of heavy metals that absorb radiation in a simar fashion to lead. These include antimony, bismuth, tin, and tungsten. One of the biggest advantages of garments made from such shielding is that you can recycle them, and they are suitable for non-hazardous disposal.

Learn More About Radiation Detection and Prevention

We hope you found this radiation guide helpful in answering “What is a RAD?” and how this measurement is used. We also hope these recommendations on measuring radiation and shielding your staff from it helps you create a safer, more secure workspace.

For more than 60 years, Shannahan Crane and Hoise have provided complete sales, engineering, parts, and service for major material handling equipment manufacturers. We carry all major lines of equipment and components at competitive prices. Reach out to us today to learn more about our products and services.

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