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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Radiation and Potassium Iodide Facts

So our local nuclear scientists' have finally detected some trace amounts of radiation that finally got mixed within our atmosphere from Japan. To me it was only a matter of time. I was always a skeptic about their continued reassurances that the "fallout" wouldn't reach our shores. They did downplay the radiation levels as negligible though, with no significant effect impacting our health.

We do have the factor of time and more so, distance from Japan working in our favor. The radiation levels dissipate significantly the farther one is from the radiation source, hence the lesser the dose of contamination. Let's face it too: if a fallout did happen here, (i.e. - the Bataan nuclear power plant), unless you have an underground bunker 20 feet below the ground encased by a foot of concrete and further shielded with 1 inch lead all around, not to mention having your own independent underground water source, air filtration system and fully stocked with food, water and supplies for at at least a month, there's really nothing we can do about this specific nuclear incident scenario.  

Now let's talk about potassium iodide (KI) and why it is prescribed in case of exposure to radioactive fallout. Basically, imagine the thyroid gland (located in front of our necks, below the larynx) as having a grand fancy for collecting radioactive iodine, the element that is dispersed during a nuclear reactor meltdown. The important points we ought to know in the event we are advised to take it are:

  1. It is taken to “block” radioactive iodine from being amassed by the thyroid gland. 
  2. It can NOT protect other organs and tissues of the body.   
  3. Effective for approximately 24 hours. 
  4. Works best within 3 – 4 hours of exposure. 
  5. Infants, children, pregnant and nursing mothers are of the highest risk and thus need priority in its intake. 
  6. There are set, specific dosages for intake and length of treatment as prescribed by authorities, so please don't self-medicate!

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