First things first, everyone knows what Potassium Iodide is right? For anyone confused, it’s the chemical KI, and it’s used during radiation exposure events to minimize the damage from radioactive iodine to thyroids. Most often it’s sold in pill form, in packs of 14.
Who should store potassium iodide? Anyone who lives downwind of nuclear power plants or nuclear missile silos. (Search for images of wind maps if you are unfamiliar with prevailing wind patterns.)
Won’t you just die if there’s a nuclear explosion? Not at all! If you can keep some mass between you and the radiation, you can easily wait out the half-life of the worst of the radiation. You’ll be tired of your basement after a couple of weeks, but you’ll be very much alive.
Where does the Potassium Iodide come in? With any exposure event for radiation, you need to protect your thyroid, the CDC says it best:
Following a radiological or nuclear event, radioactive iodine may be released into the air and then be breathed into the lungs. Radioactive iodine may also contaminate the local food supply and get into the body through food or through drink. When radioactive materials get into the body through breathing, eating, or drinking, we say that “internal contamination” has occurred. In the case of internal contamination with radioactive iodine, the thyroid gland quickly absorbs this chemical. Radioactive iodine absorbed by the thyroid can then injure the gland. Because non-radioactive KI acts to block radioactive iodine from being taken into the thyroid gland, it can help protect this gland from injury.
After events like the Fukushima melt down, demand far outstripped supply for this preventative measure.
How much do I need? I will do the math for my family of 2 adults and 2 kids, and hopefully y’all can extrapolate for your own situation.
According to the FDA, the following doses are appropriate to take after internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine:
- Adults should take 130 mg.
- Women who are breastfeeding should take the adult dose of 130 mg.
- Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg. Children who are adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.
- Infants and children between 1 month and 3 years of age should take 32 mg. This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing infants and children.
- Newborns from birth to 1 month of age should be given 16 mg. This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing newborn infants.
One of the things to remember though, is that anyone over 40 can survive fairly well without a dose. They are the least likely to develop thyroid damage or cancer after a radiation event and the most likely to have allergies to KI.
So, for every day I want protection for, I need to have at least 227 mg if just me and babies are dosing, or 357 if hubby is getting dosed too. A pack (14) of 130mg tablets has a total of 1820 mg in it. That’s 5 full days of protection for all of us. If I want enough to outlast something like a local nuclear power reactor melting down, I might want 4 packs so I can dose us all for a few weeks. That matches up with the FDA’s recommendation of one pack per person, but I encourage you to all do your own math.
Anyone live near a potential nuclear problem? KI does eventually expire, so be sure to rotate your stock!
– Calamity Jane