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Potassium iodide (KI) is a non-prescription medicine. If taken in time, KI saturates the thyroid gland, reducing the uptake of radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland. The protective benefit of KI only applies to radioiodines and is not effective against cesium, strontium, or other fission products that could be released in a nuclear power plant accident. KI pills only provide temporary protection for the thyroid gland against cancer and hypothyroid conditions, and it does not protect against other health problems that may result from exposure to radiation.
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During a radiation emergency from a nuclear power plant, radioactive materials may be released into the environment. Radioactive iodine is one of the many products that could be released. It can damage your thyroid gland (located in your neck) which includes inflammation of the thyroid, decreased activity of the thyroid (hypothyroidism), thyroid nodules (lumps), and thyroid cancer.
Evacuation is the most effective protective measure in the event of a radiation emergency. Leaving the area where radiation is present prevents exposure to all types of radiation. If timely evacuation is not possible, you may be directed by health authorities to take KI to help protect your thyroid gland. You will be notified by the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and local radio and television stations. KI works best if you take it just before or up to 3 or 4 hours after exposure to a radioactive cloud. To look up your specific evacuation site, go to the Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency website.
Please reference the Manufacturer's Package Insert, which is included in every dose of potassium iodide.
Store this medicine at room temperature in its original foil packet. Keep dry and protect from moisture. Keep out of the reach of children.
For most individuals, KI is safe; however, adverse reactions are possible. Individuals with known allergies to iodide or iodide-containing products should not use KI. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should consult their doctors before taking KI. If you have any questions, ask your doctor.
The tablets may be obtained from the Ottawa County Health Department if you live or own a business within a 10-mile radius of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station. If you are unsure whether you fall within 10 miles of the plant, contact Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency, at 419-734-6900, or visit the Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency website. View a map of the 10-mile emergency planning zone (EPZ) (PDF).
For citizens that live outside the 10-mile EPZ, review our Resource Directory to see where potassium iodide can be obtained. The listed agencies are the only agencies that the Health Department is aware of that currently sell these products. If anyone has information regarding additional agencies selling Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved potassium iodide, please call the Health Department at 419-734-6800.