BIR position statement on lead aprons

6 October 2017

Due to changes in International Standards for personal protective equipment (PPE), it has become unclear whether current lead apron designs meet the new standards and whether they can continue to be purchased. This position statement seeks to clarify the present situation.

What’s going on with PPE?

There are two components:

  1. There is a new standard for defining lead equivalence [BS 2014], which replaced the previous standard [BS 1999] in June 2017. However, these IEC standards have no force, per se, in law.
  2. The standards need to be adopted into regulation. Current UK law in this area [SI 2002] requires that PPE is CE marked. A new EU Regulation on PPE was issued in 2016 [EU 2016] which specified that CE marking must be in according with BS 2014, and will apply from April 2018. However, it also allowed a further transition year (to April 2019) for PPE manufactured and tested to the previous EC Directive [EC 1989].

So what can I buy?

We are in a transition period between the two standards and so aprons can be purchased with certification (CE marking) under either the old or new BS standard until April 2019, when only the BS 2014 standard will apply. It is understood that new CE garment labelling will indicate which testing standard was applied.

Why would you buy “old” standard aprons?

The weight of aprons in some cases may increase under the new Standard. So some purchasers might choose to buy old or current products while they can be sold and are allowed. However, aprons that comply with the new standard [BS 2014] will have been tested over a range of X-ray energies which more closely match the scattered radiation encountered in clinical practice than the old standard. Also, some existing part-lead or lead-free aprons would give less than the specified protection (e.g. 0.25 mm Pb) under the new standard.  When selecting and purchasing PPE, you should consider consulting a Radiation Protection Adviser [HSE 2000].

If I have bought the old aprons or am considering buying them now, what happens when the new standard is introduced?

There will be no requirement for you to replace aprons in April 2019. You may use your current aprons until such time as they need replacing due to wear and tear. At such time you will be required to purchase new aprons complying with the new BS standard.

Further information

A practical guide to the use and care of personal protective equipment and posters and training videos are available from the BIR website   


BS 1999. Protective devices against diagnostic medical X-radiation. Protective clothing and protective devices for gonads. BS EN 61331-3:1999

BS 2014. Protective devices against diagnostic medical X-radiation. Part 1 Determination of attenuation properties of materials and Part 3 Protective clothing, eye wear and protective patient shields. BS EN 61331-1:2014 and BS EN 61331-3:2014

EC 1989. Personal protective equipment. EC Directive 89/686/EEC

EC 2016. Personal protective equipment. EC Regulation 2016/425

HSE 2000. Work with ionising radiation. Ionising Radiations Regulations, Approved Code of Practice and Guidance. Health and Safety Executive Publication L121.

SI 2002. The personal protective equipment regulations 2002. Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 1144. London: HMSO

For information on this statement please contact:

Carole Cross

Communications Manager

020 3668 2224



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