No need right now for potassium iodide, health expert says

No need right now for potassium iodide, health expert says

You may have read about the recent run on potassium iodide, a non-prescription drug that can protect the thyroid from exposure to high levels of radiation.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said the U.S. West Coast, Hawaii and Alaska aren’t expected to experience harmful levels of radioactivity, given their distance from Japan, so state public health officials are urging Illinois residents to refrain from taking potassium iodide as a precaution at this time.

“Residents who take potassium iodide out of concern of possible radiation exposure from the events in Japan could be putting their health at risk due to side effects,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon Arnold.

Potassium iodide protects only the thyroid gland and can’t protect other parts of the body. It’s usually benign, but can be harmful to people with allergies to iodide or shellfish and people with some skin disorders, renal disease, thyroid problems and some other chronic diseases, according to the public health department.
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