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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Shielded By Fabric

RST's Demron™ radiation-blocking products are a nontoxic, flexible, lightweight alternative to traditional lead-based aprons and other radiation-shielding products.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Managing Editor

R adiation Shield Technologies (RST), Miami, has developed an innovative alternative to traditional radiation-blocking military/first-responder and medical articles. Demron™ products, made with nontoxic metals and nanopolymeric materials, are more flexible and lightweight than lead-based products; offer greater protection than conventional military/first-responder nuclear/biological/chemical suits; are durable and washable; contain recyclable materials; and pose no environmental issues regarding disposal.

Development of Demron technology was spurred in the 1990s after RST founder, President and CEO Dr. Ronald F. DeMeo became concerned about his exposure to radiation in the operating room at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, where he was teaching and performing minimally invasive spinal procedures that use continuous X-ray and fluoroscopy. 

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The disposable nonwoven Demron-M surgical mask has a nonbreathable area to cover the bridge of the nose and cheeks, and a breathable protective construction below the nose.

"The lead apron didn't cover the body well enough, and I was getting increasing radiation levels on the face, hands and thyroid - and so was everybody else in the room. So I started playing with different types of  protective materials," DeMeo explained. "I came up first with a disposable mask and then a flexible, nonbreathable fabric. After 9/11, we were pressed to make a full-body suit and give additional qualities such as chemical and biological resistance as well as thermal conductivity to keep soldiers cool. We then advanced into nanomaterials to give enhanced protection and flexibility, and now we are moving into ballistics and working to enhance aramid fibers to reduce blunt-force trauma."

Demron comprises a matrix of resin and nano- and micron-scale metal particles fused between an interlock fabric such as polyester and a flame-resistant spunbond. The metal component is a mix of high-atomic-weight metals engineered to utilize the energy wavelengths of each metal to optimize attenuation for the intended use. The result is a dense, impermeable fabric that is more flexible and lighter-weight than traditional lead materials, yet blocks X-rays, gamma rays and ionizing nuclear radiation.

RST produces the Demron nanocomposite material and roll stock in-house and sends it to US converters to produce the end products. The metal mix is different for the X-ray-blocking Demron-M medical product line of vests, aprons, thyroid collars and other articles than for the Demron-W military/first-responder line of full-body suits, vests and blankets designed to block radiation from threats such as dirty bombs and nuclear spills.

Demron's effectiveness has been proven in tests conducted by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology and Columbia University College of Physicians and
Surgeons. Demron-W, which, as noted, also provides chemical and biological protection, recently received the first NFPA 1994-2007 certification for protective ensembles for first responders to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism incidents.

RST recently received a patent covering its nanotechnology - the latest in a string of patents for Demron. It also is working with NASA to develop shielding for the International Space Station.

For more information about Demron™, contact Dan Edward +866-733-6766; www.radshield.com.

March/April 2009

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