Demand For `Nuclear Pills' Skyrockets After Sept 11

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DJ Demand For `Nuclear Pills' Skyrockets After Sept 11

Copyright 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

BOSTON (AP)--Mary Lampert keeps a single potassium iodide pill in her medicine cabinet and another in the glove compartment of her car. When you live seven miles (11 kilometers) from a nuclear plant, she says, you can't be too safe. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, people who live near nuclear plants have been buying the pills, which can help protect against cancer from radiation exposure.

"The terrorist doesn't make an announcement ahead of time, `We are going to attack the nuclear power plant,"' said Lampert, who lives in Duxbury, across Kingston Bay from the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth. "How long would it take the radioactive iodine to make it across to my house? In less than an hour, it's here."

Such fears are sending sales of potassium iodide through the roof at the Starke, Florida-based American Civil Defense Association, which sells bottles of 200 tablets at $19.95 each. Before Sept. 11, sales topped 15 bottles in a good month. Since then, more than 500 bottles have been sold.

"That is our No. 1 item. We can't hardly keep it in," said spokesman Alex Coleman.

Iodine is one of about 200 radioactive elements created when the uranium atom splits, as occurs in a nuclear reactor.

Potassium iodide, if taken shortly after exposure to radiation, blocks the thyroid gland's intake of radioactive iodine, providing some protection against thyroid cancer and certain other diseases.

It proved effective in preventing thyroid cancer among adults and children in the path of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

However, officials in Massachusetts and other states worry that stockpiling the pills would make people less likely to evacuate in the event of a nuclear accident.

Also, potassium iodide will not protect people from radiation burns, radiation sickness and other forms of cancer in a nuclear accident.

Still, momentum for distribution of the tiny white pills seems to be building.

In January, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission adopted a rule that encourages states to consider giving out potassium iodide as part of their nuclear accident strategy.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has until now left it to states to decide whether to stockpile the pills, is holding a meeting this week with representatives of 16 other federal agencies to begin drafting a new potassium iodide policy.

On the Net:

American Civil Defense Association: http://www.tacda.orgMassachusetts Coalition to Stockpile KI: http://www.gotKI.com(END) Dow Jones Newswires 23-10-01

http://199.97.97.79/IMDS%PMADJN0%read%/home/content/users/imds/feeds/djn/2001/10/23/eng-djn/eng-djn_211453_135_842564560007

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 25, 2001

Answers

I'm glad I bought my supply of potassium iodide long ago, in preparation for y2k. I may need it yet.

-- Sparky (case@webtown.com), October 25, 2001.

If you live near a nuke plant, get in the habit of noting wind direction and speed. In case of an accident, then, you'll know how to avoid the plume if anything gets airborne. Meantime, if you don't have KI pills, painting the backs of your knees and the insides of your elbows with old-fashioned tincture of iodine (something I stocked up on for y2k, chiefly for treating cuts &c) will help load the thyroid, or so the old health-physicists tell me.

-- L. Hunter Cassells (mellyrn@castlemark-honey.com), October 26, 2001.

Brain hiccup. "Meantime while evacuating" was the image I had in mind; on re-reading, I see that that's not what I managed to say. Do the iodine-painting, if necessary, when a nuke release event happens, not "meantime" on an everyday basis!

-- L. Hunter Cassells (mellyrn@castlemark-honey.com), October 26, 2001.

Be careful!!!!!!!!!!

Some people are allergic to KI, including myself.

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), October 26, 2001.


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