Medi-Ray and Lead Safety
Medi-Ray, Inc., the world’s leading lead technology and manufacturing company, is committed to maximum safety for our personnel, our facility, our community and the products we make. Medi-Ray is a unique alliance of radiation physicians, metallurgists, physicians, designers, engineers and manufacturing technologists. Our personnel are continuously engaged in research into new ways to make the products we design, our plant and our environmental systems as safe as technologically possible.
Our efforts have led to Medi-Ray’s nomination by the US Federal EPA as the first ever Heavy Metal Company (lead) to receive an award for “Most Hygienic Lead Fabricator” as a result of our health, safety and environmental programs.
We would like to present you with this brief overview of the state of lead safety in general and at Medi-Ray in particular.
Why use lead at all?
Modern industrial facilities and lead product manufacturers have the issue of lead safety well in hand, and it has been under control and improving for several decades. Stringent government regulations effectively control processes and practices in order to insure a very high standard of safety for both workers and the environment. A myriad of lead products are routinely produced for a diverse range of industries including nuclear medicine, medical instrumentation, radiation shielding, aerospace and the military, laboratories, construction, industrial and heavy equipment, ship building, oil drilling and electronics. These industries depend upon products with qualities that only lead can provide.
Lead is an extremely dense material making it ideal for ballast, counterweights and similar objects. It also has the ability to shield X-Rays and radiation. This shielding property has allowed advancements in nuclear medicine and diagnostic X-Ray equipment to accelerate due to the increasing availability of superior shielding products. Lead is much more effective than other materials as a shield, requiring only small amounts in comparison, therefore making the resultant products much smaller and consequently much easier to use, handle and store.
Perhaps the most significant factor affecting product design is lead’s inherent softness. None of the other materials that could theoretically be used in its place feature softness to any appreciable degree. Many product designs are, by functional necessity, quite intricate, and the use of lead in these designs is virtually mandatory. Easily cast and machined, lead significantly reduces difficulties in manufacture, especially in modern composite products; therefore the cost of production is decreased dramatically.
The combination of workability and natural shielding properties actually allow for intricate designs, since other materials would not have enough mass to effectively stop radiation at the acceptable levels, which most products require in order to achieve practical usability, and hence cost much more in the final analysis.
Is it safe to handle lead products?
Medi-Ray research efforts have allowed us to create a product line that can be safely handled by end users in everyday situations without the need for difficult and costly precautions. In 1994 Medi-Ray scientists discovered a combination of coating elements in which the resulting formula would chemically bonded itself to lead. This quickly led to the development of a revolutionary protective coating that will not come off and, as a bonus, can be made in many attractive colors. Additionally, this coating has a very low VOC. Lead products which are coated with this proprietary formulation, not to be confused with paint, are extraordinarily safe and completely eliminate any possibility of contact between skin and lead. Medi-Ray recommends and routinely uses this coating to provide medical, science and industry with products that are without peer in safety, quality, performance and usability.
Are there standards for exposure to lead?
Yes, there are indeed standards that must be met. The standard for lead exposure was developed by OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration). OSHA standards define the acceptable levels of exposure, along with guidelines for work and hygiene habits as well as medical surveillance.
Regarding the OSHA standards, Medi-Ray is of the opinion that these standards are only a minimum starting point to base our programs and systems on. Our implementations exceed each one of these guidelines by a wide margin to ensure your safety, the safety of the community and the safety of our environment.
How does Medi-Ray protect the environment and the facility?
To start with, safety testing at Medi-Ray never stops. Environmental testing and monitoring of the facility air and water purification systems, production systems maintain maintenance and the safeguarding of our personnel is continuous and performed with state-of-the-art technology, much of it proprietary. The following points give an overview of our safety related efforts.
- Among its world-class staff, Medi-Ray employs environmental engineers, physicians and radiation physicians who continually work to ensure that we are at the cutting edge of safety and innovation in our industry.
- We use portable X-Ray equipment on a constant basis to detect any lead film residue or lead dust on every surface within our facility, from the floor to the rafters; we test the machinery and the furniture in every work area, eating area, office, everywhere. Rest assured, Medi-Ray takes plant hygiene very, very seriously indeed.
- The air in the facility is treated by a custom filtration system that our environmental engineers designed and built in 1993. Through the use of air sampling, HEPA filters and proprietary configurations, this system protects the air both within and outside the facility to levels that far exceed the standards set forth by any agency of the US government.
- Similarly, the water used in the facility is also continuously filtered to levels that exceed all known standards of purity, providing our staff and our community with safety and peace of mind. The water filtration system, which protects both the production process water and the consumable water, is also a proprietary Medi-Ray design that has since been adopted by several Fortune 100 companies to protect their own facility environments.
- No waste material is ever generated here without it going to a certified waste disposal company.
- As the industry leader in lead recycling programs and technology, we quite naturally recycle every last particle of lead that does not end up in a product’s composition. No errant lead leaves our facility, since our systems are designed so that such occurrences do not happen.