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Potassium Iodide: Hold on to what you have

May 2. By Dave Vieser. As if dealing with the pandemic isn’t enough, residents in the McGuire Nuclear Plant Emergency Planning Zone have been advised to hold on to any unopened supplies of potassium iodide pills distributed in September 2014, even though they expired in April.

President Carter leaves Three Mile Island 1979

The National Research Council, recommends that potassium iodide tablets be “pre-distributed” to all people aged 40 and under, especially pregnant and lactating women, living near nuclear plants in case there is an emergency at some point.

McGuire Nuclear Station, site of many a concert and special event, is less than 10 miles from Cornelius.

Serious nuclear power plant accidents are rare. The most infamous are:

  • The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011
  • Chernobyl in 1986
  • Three Mile Island accident 1979

New pills are not yet available except through online retail purchase, and county health departments placed the blame on the federal government for failing to provide a new supply.

No county, state, or federal official was available Saturday afternoon to explain why the public was only notified of this situation after the pills expired.

Potassium Iodide, also known by its chemical symbol, KI, is an over-the-counter medication that can protect the thyroid in the event of a radioactive emergency.

If taken at the appropriate time and at the proper dosage, KI fills the thyroid with stable iodine to prevent radioactive iodine from being absorbed, therefore reducing the risk of possible damage of the thyroid.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, studies confirm that none of the components of KI tablets, including the active ingredient, are significantly reduced when stored according to labeled directions. Therefore, KI tablets are naturally stable, do not lose their effectiveness over time, and remains usable.

Should residents and/or employers prefer to obtain new KI, it is available for purchase at several online retailers. When the new KI supply is received, the five counties will provide the KI pills to the public that live and work in the 10-mile EPZ of nuclear power plants.