Potassium iodide tablets, taken at the appropriate time and according to official instructions, can prevent radioactive iodine in the air becoming enriched in the thyroid gland through inhalation. In this way, the radioactive load on the thyroid can be significantly reduced.
However, it should be noted that while potassium iodide tablets offer protection from radioactive iodine, they do not protect against radiation from external sources that affect the body and airways. This is why the authorities issue instructions on additional protective measures to be taken in conjunction with the tablets, such as staying indoors, or taking cover in a cellar or protective shelter.
The National Emergency Operations Centre orders potassium iodide tablets to be provided and to be taken if:
- There is an imminent danger: instructions to have tablets ready;
- The danger exists: instructions to take the tablets.
All instructions are communicated via radio.
The way in which the potassium iodide tablets are distributed takes into account the time required to provide them after an accident in a Swiss nuclear power plant. It therefore varies according to the particular zone.
The tablets are distributed as a precaution to all households, schools, companies etc. within a circumference of 50 km from Swiss nuclear power plants. In the rest of Switzerland the potassium iodide tablets have to be handed out to the population within 12 hours of their prescription - according to the collect principle.
Administering the tablets
The tablets should only be taken if officially instructed to do so. They should be dissolved in a liquid of choice and preferably not taken on an empty stomach. The authorities will issue information via radio on the length of this course of treatment.
Newborns (first four weeks) may only be given a single dose of ¼ tablet; children from 2 months to 3 years, ½ tablet per day. Children between 3 and 12: one tablet per day; children over 12 and adults: 2 tablets per day. Pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers may take 2 tablets daily for a maximum of 2 days.
Taking potassium iodide tablets offers reliable and safe protection of the thyroid gland. However, their uncontrolled use should be avoided, particularly in newborns and toddlers. Patients with rare illnesses, such as hypersensitivity to iodine or a pre-existing disease of the thyroid gland, should consult their family doctor beforehand.
For further information, go to www.jodtabletten.ch.