Back grey_arrow_rt.gif
 
 
Japan Reactor Crisis Triggers Run on Iodide Pills in L.A.
 
 
  MedPage Today
March 15, 2011
 
Faced with a run on potassium iodide pills in Los Angeles-area pharmacies -- prompted by fears of radioactive particles drifting across the Pacific Ocean from Japan's stricken nuclear reactors -- public health officials are asking for calm.
 
Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, health officer for Los Angeles County, told reporters on a conference call that his department had learned that stocks of potassium iodide pills had run low in some pharmacies, with a few reporting that they had sold out entirely.
 
The pills are used in radiation leakage situations to prevent carcinogenic iodine-131 isotopes from accumulating in the thyroid gland.
 
Fielding said he and other public health authorities still believe that Californians faced "minimal risk of radiation exposure" from the Japanese nuclear facility, even though news reports indicated that a series of explosions had breached the containment building surrounding one reactor.
 
"I want to stress that there is no reason to purchase potassium iodide at this time," he said. Fielding also urged those who had already bought the pills not to take them, as they can have adverse effects.
 
He also stressed that officials were monitoring radiation levels continuously and would alert the public if levels rose enough to warrant concern, noting that the distance from Japan would guarantee several days of warning.
 
"However, concern for personal safety and that of loved ones has prompted some to rush to pharmacies to purchase potassium iodide," Fielding said. He said the run on potassium iodide could complicate treatment for people who need it now for medical purposes. The substance is sometimes prescribed to treat potassium deficiency, Fielding noted.
 
He pointed out that even if there were a radiation danger, potassium iodide pills are not a panacea.
 
"Let's remember that when we're talking about potassium iodide, we're talking about one particular isotope," he said. "If there was a plume or something like that, there would be many [radioactive isotopes in the environment] ... there are many problem radionuclides that can come out of a reactor."
 
 
 
 
  icon paper stack View Older Articles   Back to Top   www.natap.org