Potassium Iodide Tablets
The basics of protecting from radioactive contamination are outlined beow and one of the first lines of defense is the use of Potassium Iodide to protect the thyroid:
1. Put distance between you and the source of contamination. Most radioactive contamination occurs within miles or tens of miles of the source.
2. If evacuation is not possible, create a safe room to limit exposure to radioactive particulates – details of creating a safe room are the Handbook.
3. Equip yourself with a portable dosimeter (such as the RADStickers offered here).
4. Take potassium iodide (KI) if the threat appears imminent. Note that KI is particularly important for children.
5. After the event has passed, be cautious about consuming foods that may have been contaminated. (e.g., At Chernobyl, children became sick when they consumed milk from cows that had eaten contaminated grass and grains).
In particular, people often wonder about the use of potassium iodide (KI) as a safeguard against radioactive poisoning.
Potassium iodide (KI) is a salt of stable iodine used by your body to produce thyroid hormones. In the event of a radiological or nuclear event, radioactive iodine may be released into the air, food, or water. If you ingest or inhale this iodine, it will be quickly absorbed by your thyroid gland. This can injure your thyroid, leading to cancer and death. If you take potassium iodide in advance, it essentially fills your thyroid, preventing the absorption of radioactive iodine and potentially saving your life. The effectiveness of potassium iodide depends upon three things: (1) how much time has passed between the contamination of radioactive iodine and the taking of KI, (2) how fast the KI is absorbed into your blood, and (3) the total amount of radioactive iodine to which you are exposed.
It is also important to understand what KI cannot do. Potassium iodide only protects the thyroid against ingested or inhaled radioactive iodine. It will not protect against other radioactive materials such as those released by a “dirty bomb”; neither will it protect any part of the body except the thyroid. It will also not protect against the effects of radiation exposure.
The thyroid glands of unborn fetuses, infants, and young children are particularly susceptible to radioactive iodine, making KI pre-treatment critical. Potassium iodide will protect the thyroid for 24 hours, so depending on the duration of the threat, repeat dosing may be required. Potassium iodide comes in both tablet (65 mg and 130 mg) and liquid (65 mg per mL) forms. These concentrations align well with the FDA’s recommended dosages.
Birth to 1 month – 16 mg
1 month to 3 yrs – 32 mg
3 yrs to 18 yrs – 65 mg
18+ or >150 lbs – 130 mg
Potassium iodide is generally considered very safe but can be harmful to people with certain medical conditions, so consult your doctor before taking KI. A prescription is not required to purchase KI.
The product iOSAT is recommended since it is the only full-strength, FDA-approved KI tablet for radiation blocking.