When we think of a nuclear disaster, we usually imagine something on the scale of Hiroshima or Chernobyl. While the possibility of such a large-scale possibility is indeed worrying, it is low scale radiation that we need to worry about. With our dependence on certain radioactive infrastructure like power generating plants that use fission technology, the possibility of radioactive leak should also be considered.
One of the oft prescribed medications when dealing with any nuclear leakage is potassium iodide. This prevention becomes critical in case of a radioactive environment. Its effect on low grade radiation is also what makes potassium iodide manufactures so important to the food and beverage industry.
But what makes potassium iodide so effective? Let’s see it in detail.
Potassium iodide is a form of stable iodine that can counter the effect of radioactive iodine by blocking the latter from being absorbed by the thyroid gland. So, why is this important?
The thyroid gland which produces hormones that regulate our energy and metabolism. It does so by absorbing iodine in the bloodstream and is the only part of the body that takes iodine. However, it cannot distinguish between safe or stable iodine and radioactive iodine. When the body is exposed to a nuclear environment, it will soak up the radioactive iodine. This increases of the exposed person developing radioactive disorders like cancer.
This is why many health organisations often use potassium iodide manufactures when any such leak is detected. The stable potassium iodide stops the thyroid from absorbing any of the radioactive iodine, protecting to from any possible radioactive injury.
While it is very effective in protecting the thyroid, it should be noted that it is not a cure and has certain limitations. These are:
- It cannot stop radioactive iodine from entering the body.
- It cannot cure an already damaged thyroid.
- It only protects the thyroid and not other organs from radioactive iodine.
- It is only effective against radioactive iodine. Hence, it is of little use if the radioactive material is non-iodine.
Treating with Potassium Iodide
The most common product by potassium iodide manufactures is in the form of table salt or as a dietary supplement. However, these are not sufficient in treating a serious threat of iodine radiation. In such cases, health authorities often work with manufactures to distribute the right dosage. This is usually in the form of tablet, since the potassium iodide content in consumables like common salt is too low.
This must be done under strict guidance of health authorities, since over consumption of potassium iodide can be harmful. Dosage has to be administered carefully, especially in case of infants, small children, pregnant and breastfeeding women. The administration of the medicine for small children can also be in the form of solution.
The risk of radioactive iodine exposure can come from many sources, from medical procedures to possible environmental contaminations. This makes the role of potassium iodide manufactures in producing effective protective medication all the more important.