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Going Shopping To Replace Potassium Iodide for Participating States

Patricia Milligan
Senior Level Advisor for Emergency Preparedness

The Department of Health and Human Services, acting on behalf of the NRC, last month issued a procurement order for 14 million tablets of potassium iodide to replenish out-of-date supplies. This drug, also known by its chemical symbol KI, is used to protect the thyroid against radioactive iodine should a nuclear power plant accident occur, and is part of NRC’s program to help states and localities with their emergency response plans.

The NRC first offered KI tablets to states with residents living within the 10-mile emergency protection zone of a nuclear power plant in 2001. The agency recommends that states consider including KI in their emergency preparedness plans and provides it to those states that ask for it. Currently, 25 states have requested and received the pills.

The NRC’s policy is to offer KI to states once every six years to replace pills that may have passed their shelf life. The recent order is the third wave of replenishing KI. While this matter has been subject of some social media attention as perhaps indicative of some imminent threat, supplying KI is nothing new. Including KI in emergency plans is a decades old precaution. However, this is the first time the NRC has used the HHS medical procurement service to order KI. The NRC decided to go through HHS this time in order to leverage federal buying power and reduce costs.

Here are some other facts about KI:

• KI protects the thyroid from iodine-131, a radioisotope that would likely be released into the air during a nuclear power plant accident. It does not protect against all forms of radiation and is to be taken in addition to other protective measures, such as sheltering.

• Residents living near nuclear plants should take KI only when directed by local authorities during an incident – it is not a daily supplement to build up immunity, as some have advertised on the Internet. In fact, daily use can be harmful.

If you live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant and want to inquire about obtaining KI and/or disposing of expired KI, contact your state health authorities.

29 responses to “Going Shopping To Replace Potassium Iodide for Participating States

  1. John S February 12, 2014 at 1:47 am

    Nice blog… Thanks for sharing lots of inofrmation about Potassium Iodide (KI) affect human body.

  2. richard123456columbia January 29, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Is that not similar to Fukushima, they were reporting to the government and yet the public was been told the plant was safe while it was melting down in shambles. It was so bad that workers could not get close to many areas to evaluate the plants condition. The public was under the impression that the plant was under control and safe.The nuclear industry in Japan told the public that the plant is under control cold shut down, Again what about the sailors on the US ship that they did not warn, they new it was not safe yet they did not warn them, there must have been many Japanies worker that were on ships all so responding from the sea to attack the problems.
    They should of evacuated Tokyo, thought about it and did not, yet they new at least 3 plants were melting down after blowing up and 5 pools of spent and fresh fuel was compromised, they also had a plant close to this one that may also blow up with its pools. On top of this there may be more earth quacks to shake these ravaged plants. Why did they not evacuate Tokyo and surrounding area, it looks like they will never try to evacuate a high populated area no mater what the risk is.After seeing this response I have no confidence that the public will be warned in time.

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