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Cornelius News

Benefits, risks of potassium iodide in a nuclear emergency; where to find pills

The best protection in a radiation emergency, according to the CDC,  is always to get inside and stay tuned for info from officials. The Mecklenburg County Preparedness Team provides potassium iodide tablets to people within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant. Photo | CDC

Jan. 19. By TL Bernthal. Mecklenburg County sits between two Duke Energy nuclear power plants, McGuire and Catawba.

Residents and businesses within 10 miles of either one should be prepared to protect themselves and evacuate or shelter-in-place should a nuclear release occur.

A silent siren test Thursday, Jan. 19, for McGuire Nuclear Station was inadvertently audible and raised fears of a serious problem at the plant, which was operating safely—there was no emergency.

In the aftermath, some residents started a search for potassium iodide, a non-prescription medication that is used to protect the thyroid gland, in the event of a nuclear release or radiological emergency. If taken at the appropriate time and at the proper dosage, potassium iodide can block the intake of radioactive iodine, therefore reducing the risk of thyroid cancer.

In light of traffic…

A potassium iodide pill may be the best you can do, given the traffic there would be on I-77 and other roads leading away from the area.

Potassium iodide should not be taken unless directed by public health officials. Potassium iodide can have harmful health effects and can cause allergic reactions. The risk of harm increases when it is not taken exactly as directed by a medical or public health official.

If potassium iodide is recommended by public health officials, you should still follow evacuation or shelter-in-place recommendations.

Click here to read the CDC’s advice and recommendations.

Where to get the pills

If you are a Mecklenburg County resident who lives or works within 10 miles of McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville, you can visit the following locations during normal business hours to obtain your potassium iodide.

Cornelius Police Department

21440 Catawba Ave, Cornelius, NC 28031


Davidson Police Department

216 S Main St, Davidson, NC 28036


Huntersville Police Department

9630 Julian Clark Avenue, Huntersville, NC 28078


Mecklenburg County Health Department – Uptown

618 N. College Street, Charlotte, NC 28202


Mecklenburg County Health Department – Northwest

2845 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte, NC 28216