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Distribution of Potassium Iodide in Ohio

Program involves populations within a 10-mile radius of nuclear power plants.

Distribution of Potassium Iodide in Ohio

Nathan Wirick, Pharm.D. Candidate, Ohio State University, OPA Extern

Due to events of 9/11 and recent federal legislation, a dispensing program for potassium iodide (KI) tablets is being implemented in Ohio in the event of a radiation accident. The program involves distributing KI to populations within a 10-mile radius of nuclear power plants, referred to as emergency planning zones (EPZs). The Perry Nuclear Power Plant involves Lake, Geauga, and Ashtabula counties; the EPZ of the Davis-Bessie Nuclear Power Station includes residents in Ottawa and Lucas counties; and the 10-mile radius of the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania affects Columbiana County and the city of East Liverpool.

This effort is supported by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), in coordination with the Ohio Department of Health, local health departments, local emergency management coordinators, and other emergency personnel. OPA has been involved in discussions about the possibility of distributing KI through local pharmacies.

KI tablets have been requisitioned from NRC for distribution to these populations to have on hand. In the event of a radiation emergency, the population will be directed to take the KI and evacuate the area. The KI will help protect the thyroid gland against potential damage from radioactive iodine.

The pharmacist will be an important source of information and key in quelling concerns and fears. OPA will keep you informed as we help coordinate the distribution plan of KI in the above mentioned areas. You may also contact your local health department to determine where they are in the planning process.

General Information on KI.
Potassium iodide prevents damage to the thyroid gland due to exposure to radioactive iodine. The protective effects are not permanent; one dose protects for 24 hours. Evacuation from the area is critical. Persons in the EPZ are at highest risk for exposure. KI needs to be taken immediately to have any benefit with exposure. Currently, the FDA approved dose is 130mg for adults and children over one year of age, and 65mg for children under the age of one. However, dosing guidelines are currently under review. KI should not be taken by those with allergies to iodine, and not longer than recommended due to potential for adverse effects. It remains stable in its original package for several years, and is available OTC. However, it should be stressed that most people will not need it, and currently supplies are being directed through the federal government.

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