By John J. O’Dell
The possibility of dangerous levels of radiation hitting Nevada County is on the order of zero to none. However, herb shops and vitamin stores are stocking up on adult doses of potassium iodide. This is a very serious drug to take which according to Dr. Time Jorgensen, an associate professor of radiation medicine at Georgetwon University, said that giving an adult dose of potassium iodide to an infant would be toxic. (Along with allergies to iodine, shellfish, thyroid problems and heart problems)
Further “There is no increased risk of harmful levels of radiation exposure in the United States based on the situation to date at the nuclear power complex in Japan,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Los Angeles’ Director of Public Health. “Residents who ingest potassium iodide out of concern of possible exposure from this situation are doing something which is not only ineffective, but could also cause side effects.”
Dan Sprau, who teaches radiation safety at East Carolina University, said, “Potassium can lead to heart problems.”
Radiation Realty Check from ABC News
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q. What’s the risk for California from the current nuclear power emergency in Japan?
A. At present, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) indicates Japan’s nuclear emergency presents no danger to California.
- Q. What is being done to test for radiation that might be coming or is present in the environment?
A. Both Federal and State monitoring is ongoing and will be supplemented as needed.
- Q. Does California have a plan in place to respond to a radiological emergency?
A. CDPH has a plan for response to radiological emergencies, called the Nuclear Emergency Response Plan.
- Q. Does California stockpile supplies for such an emergency?
A. California does stockpile emergency supplies, including potassium iodide (KI) tablets. Potassium iodide tablets are not recommended at this time, and can present a danger to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish or who have thyroid problems. Potassium iodide tablets should not be taken unless directed by authorities.
- Q. Why are potassium iodide tablets used during emergencies involving radiation exposure?
A. Potassium iodide tablets may be recommended to individuals who are at risk for radiation exposure or have been exposed to excessive radiation to block the body’s absorption of radioactive iodine. Using potassium iodide when inappropriate could have potential serious side effects such as abnormal heart rhythms, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte abnormalities and bleeding.
- Q. Should I be taking potassium iodide to protect myself?
A. No. Potassium iodide tablets are not recommended at this time, and can present a danger to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish or who have thyroid problems.
- Q. Should I purchase potassium iodide as a precaution?
A. No. Potassium iodide is only appropriate within a very close proximity to a nuclear event. Using potassium iodide when inappropriate could have potential serious side effects such as abnormal heart rhythms, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte abnormalities and bleeding.
- Q. Are there any protective measures I should currently take?
A. The best thing anyone can do is to stay informed. CDPH and other state and federal partners are monitoring the situation. If circumstances change, officials will alert the public to appropriate precautionary procedures. But, again, at this time, the NRC reports Japan’s nuclear emergency presents no danger to California.
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