Protective pills for residents near nuclear plants endorsed
The council report,
requested by Congress, said potassium iodide pills should be available
to everyone age 40 or younger, especially children and pregnant or lactating
women. People over 40 appear to be more resistant to the cancer-causing
effects of exposure to radioactive iodine, and are more likely than younger
people to develop side effects from the pills, such as diarrhea, joint
pains and rashes.
report also recommends that states should decide how to stockpile and
distribute the pills. In 2001 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced
that it would provide the pills to states with nuclear plants on request,
so they could have the material on hand in case of an emergency. The next
year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a policy stating
that the pills should be distributed to emergency workers and institutionalized
persons and should be considered for the general public living within
10 miles of a nuclear reactor.
Potassium iodide will not protect against other isotopes that might be released in a nuclear plant accident or sabotage. The report also said the pills would not protect against cesium or cobalt, that terrorist might try to spread by using a so-called "dirty bomb."