WHAT’S WRONG WITH WHAT CRITICS SAY?
With so many potent
arguments for stockpiling KI, the obvious question - what are the
arguments against it? Let’s go through them.
can’t happen, at least here.
thinking. Terrorism, TMI and the near miss at the Davis- Besse reactor in
Ohio argues against complacency. Human error must always be reckoned with.
Certainly it is
preferable, if it is feasible, but often it is not feasible, because of
weather, traffic or wind patterns. Evacuations only work perfectly on paper.
During Hurricane Floyd, it took some drivers 8 hours to go 35 miles.
Besides, KI and evacuation are not an either/or proposition. Depending on
the circumstances, people may wish to take KI before, during or after they
evacuate. Likewise, KI gives additional protection to people who are forced
to shelter. KI is an extra arrow in the quiver!
KI protects just one
organ, the thyroid.
True, but it is
the most radiation-sensitive organ in the body.
KI will create a false
sense of security.
holds that if a nuclear accident or act of terrorism occurs, the sirens are
blaring, TV and radio advise, “Evacuate,” folks, instead will stay put -
believing that KI will give them complete protection. Can anyone seriously
believe that this would really happen? Experience tells us that in
emergencies, people follow the instructions of authorities. If this is not
so, then the value of all emergency planning is placed in doubt. We are
It is more cost-effective
to treat thyroid cancer/disease than prevent it with KI.
cruel as it sounds, this cost-benefit theory underlies existing US policy on
KI which was put in place in 1985, before Chernobyl, and has yet to be
We don’t need KI, because
radiation-induced thyroid cancer/disease is not that serious.
kills over a thousand Americans each year. For many more, it has major life
impacts, including surgery, radiation treatment, and a lifetime on
medication. Radiation damage to the child’s thyroid can also cause mental
retardation, brought about by hypothyroidism. We do not believe protecting
the health of the nuclear industry is more important than protecting the
KI poses a high risk of
Not true. KI
was found “safe and effective” by the Food and Drug Administration in 1978,
again in 2001, and approved for over-the-counter use soon after.
Massachusetts Department of Public Health supports its use. It is the same
chemical used in iodized salt. Poland gave out 18 million doses after
Chernobyl with negligible side effects. Two people were hospitalized
briefly; both had known iodine allergies. Two neonates experienced transient
hypothyroidism, not requiring treatment. You may read the details in the May
1993 article by Drs. Nauman and Wolff in the American Journal of Medicine,
page 524. Potassium Iodide is an ingredient in many cough syrups and
expectorants. The incidence of adverse reactions to KI in doses used for
nuclear accidents is as low as 1 in 10 million – with often no more than a
skin rash. It is safe and effective.
There may be liability.
This is a
bogeyman to scare people – all the people who supposedly will be harmed by
side effects of KI and will then sue. This is far-fetched.
We know side
effects are minimal from the Polish data and FDA.
or jury would hold a state or community liable for doing what it could, in a
radiological emergency, to prevent thyroid cancer by giving an
over-the-counter medicine approved by FDA?
We would not
administer KI until being advised by the state that it was appropriate to do
would be required to authorize the school to administer KI to their children
beforehand, just as they now do for other over- the-counter medications.
We don’t need local
stockpiles, because regional stockpiles can meet the need.
KI is time
sensitive. It must be taken before or shortly after exposure to be an
effective block. Taken during the first 3-4 hours after exposure, KI is only
50% effective as a blocking agent. There is no protection if KI is taken (6)
or more hours after exposure. The bottom line- if KI is in schools your kids
will be protected. They will not get it in time if it has to be transported
from some regional stockpile, by jet or otherwise. The current Director of
FEMA said as much in April 1999.
is too expensive; we can not afford it.
KI is cheap.
Each pill costs less than 20 cents. Its shelf life is more than 5 years. The
US NRC has stated that they will reimburse states that choose to stockpile
within the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ), 10-mile radius around a reactor,
and state legislation can be enacted to require KI for communities outside
the 10-mile EPZ. Any incidental costs, or costs for KI beyond the 10-mile
EPZ, would be borne by the industry as all emergency planning costs properly
Stockpiling may cause the
public to loose confidence in nuclear technology.
This fear is
the real reason that the federal and state governments have not acted to
require KI for the public. It is not a valid basis for governmental
decisions affecting public health. France and Japan are the most pro-nuclear
countries and they have had stockpiles for many years. The issue is public
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