Explainer: How iodine tablets block some nuclear radiation

NEW YORK: NEW YORK: The war in Ukraine has raised fears about nuclear exposure – and interest in iodine pills can help protect against some radiation.
Concern has grown in recent weeks about periodic power cuts to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear plants have increased the risk of disaster. And threats from the Russian President Vladimir Putin that he would use “all necessary means” to win the war in Ukraine has raised the specter of nuclear war.
Several countries in Europe have started stockpiling pills, and pharmacies in Finland are starting to run out of pills after the country’s health ministry advised households to buy a single dose in case of an emergency. .
But what are iodine pills? And what can they do – and what can’t they do – in the event of a nuclear leak or attack?
Potassium iodide, or KI, provides specific protection against one type of exposure. It prevents the thyroid gland – a hormone-producing gland in the neck – from absorbing radioactive iodine, which can be released into the atmosphere during a nuclear accident.
This radioactive substance can increase the risk of thyroid cancer if it enters the body, such as by breathing in or eating contaminated food. It is especially dangerous for children, and its health risks can persist for years after exposure, according to the World Health Organization.
Iodine tablets It works by filling the thyroid gland with a stable version of iodine so the radioactive type can’t get in. If the thyroid gland was packed with potassium iodide, it would not be able to absorb the harmful iodine left behind after a nuclear accident.
These pills were very cheap and sold all over the world, and many countries, including the US, stocked them.
But potassium iodide does not protect against other types of radioactive threats. For example, a nuclear bomb can release many different types of radiation, and radioactive substances can harm many parts of the body.
Health authorities warn that potassium iodide should only be used in certain nuclear emergencies and works best if it is done close to the time of exposure. It should not be considered as a precaution ahead of time.
Potassium iodide dosage can be accompanied by some side effects such as rash, inflammation or upset stomach. According to US Food and Drug Administration guidelines, people over the age of 40 should not take iodine tablets unless their expected exposure is very high.


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