Potential Risk for Lead Exposure in Dental Offices, says CDC

Lead-lined boxes used to store intraoral dental film and film stored in them create an avoidable potential exposure risk for lead and should be disposed of immediately.

A potential risk for lead exposure exists in some dental offices. In the past, the need to protect intraoral dental film from scatter radiation led to the use of lead-lined film storage boxes in dental offices. These boxes and the film in them were found to contain lead powder. Forty-three of 240 (18%) dental offices with radiograph equipment visited in Wisconsin between January and March, 2001 used these lead-lined boxes. The lead powder could be transferred to patients undergoing dental radiograph procedures via the hygienist’s fingers and the film itself. Because advances in dental radiograph technology have reduced scatter radiation, lead-lined radiograph storage boxes are no longer necessary. Dental offices still using these boxes should dispose of them, and any film in them, immediately.

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