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Radiation dresses increase contamination chances: study

By Pang Qi  (Global Times)

08:43, December 19, 2011

Garments worn by Chinese women meant to shield radiation have now come under question amid a discovery radiation inside the suit can increase when near numerous radioactive materials.

Results from this latest research aired on China Central Television Saturday. It showed the protective garment is able to block about 90 percent of outside radiation when there is one radioactive source nearby. However, levels inside the maternity garment increase when there is more than one radiation source.

According to the research, pregnant women can absorb a small amount of radiation around them and reflect most of it back. But, when a pregnant woman wears the protective garment, radiation can enter through the gaps between a woman's body and the protective wear. Once inside the suit, it can have trouble escaping.

A customer service representative from Gatu, a company making protective maternity garments, told the Global Times their products reflect the electromagnetic waves through metal, so the garment is not affected by how many radiation sources exist outside it.

But Dong Shuquan, a professor and director of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Luzhou Medical College, told the Global Times that "any doctor would not recommend such a garment for those who are pregnant, and the alleged benefits from such products are nothing more than hype."

However, the doctor rejected findings that radiation levels can increase when wearing the protective dress.

According to Dong, the normal radiation level in family homes and at the workplace is generally lower than the level that can threaten a person's health. He said pregnant women who wear the anti-radiation garments do so mostly out of fear. "But we won't stop them if they want to wear one."

Chen Xiaoying, a pregnant woman from Shanghai, said she started wearing a protective dress when she first learned she was having a baby.

"I'm at a loss over whether or not I should continue wearing one," she said.

Dong suggested that pregnant women who have to sit in front of computers for long periods of time should use a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and not directly face the screen, so as to reduce the level of exposure to radiation.

Xie Jianing and Yang Ruoyu contributed to this story

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