Radioactive Iodine, the thyroid gland and what happens to people at a distance from a nuclear reactor (think Japan, Chernobyl)
Radionucleotides such as radioactive iodine are released into the atmosphere after catastrophes like these. People can then ingest these particles in different ways... in aerosol form, from contaminated water, from vegetation (eat your greens or you'll get no pudding) dairy products (because cows feeding on Radioactive Iodine contaminated grass secrete it in their milk) or from meat (beef/pork/veal/lamb...).
And what happens when people absorb this product (I 131)? Well, Chernobyl taught us a lot. We learned that it is a cause of thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. This is especially true for children, teenagers and pregnant women. Older people have a lower risk of developing these diseases, but that's small comfort.
The problem is well recognized and authorities in North America make effective treatment freely available. The treatment is Potassium Iodide which acts by competing with the I 131 for the transport mechanism that takes it into the thyroid gland. The trick is how quickly you get the antidote/preventative.
If you take it 12 hours BEFORE exposure, potassium iodide can almost completely prevent the I 131 being absorbed.
Taken 2 hours AFTER exposure the protection falls to 80%, 8 hours after you are protected 40%, and if you take it a day later then the protection rate is only 7%. You need to be psychic, forewarned or quick off the mark, for sure.
In the U.S.
• People living WITHIN TEN MILES of a nuclear reactor can get free KI from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (www.nrc.gov)
• People living 10-20 MILES from a reactor can get the drug from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.fema.gov)
• In the U.S. KI is available as IOSAT (130mgm tabs) www.anbex.com, or Thyroshield (65mgm/ml oral solution) www.thyroshield.com, or ThyroSafe (65mgm tabs) www.thyrosafe.com
• Contact your local municipality
• In Canada KI is available as RadBlock (65mgm tabs) www.kicanada.com
Lets hope we never need it.