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Iodine tablet purchases appropriate says Surgeon General

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Update: 10:40pm: The Department of Health and Human Services has clarified U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin is not advocating purchasing potassium iodide tablets. Nuclear experts say the chances of radiation from Japan reaching the U.S. is not expected, reported by MSNBC this evening.

In a news interview, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said buying iodine tablets, also known as K1 and potassium iodide, is appropriate, over fears of radiation reaching the US West Coast from Japan.

Benjamin said, "We need to be as prepared as we can...to save lives and keep people healthy..even if it's one live", though she said she wasn't aware people were stocking up. The interview took place during a visit to California's Bay Area.

California State and County officials say there's no need to buy iodine tablets

Benjamin says response teams are on "standby" in the Bay Area "if needed", in an interview from NBC/Bay Area, released today, and reported by Lori Preuitt, but the messages from State and County officials differ.

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Kelly Huston of California Emergency Management Agency says people don't need to purchase iodine pills and the situation is being closely monitored by the.Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the California Energy Commission.

According to Huston, "Even if we had a radiation release from Diablo Canyon (in San Luis Obispo County), iodide would only be issued to people living within a 10-mile radius of the plant."

According to the report, Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, public health officer for Santa Clare County, "There's no reason for doing it", noting the dangers for people who could be severely allergic to the iodine.

The price of potassium iodide tablets have gone up. An EBay search shows several open bids. One vendor is offering 180 iodine tablets at a starting bid of $65.00, as the pills are becoming more difficult to find.

U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin says there's no reason not to be prepared, and purchasing iodine tablets is "definitely appropriate", as pharmacists in California are busy filling requests for potassium iodide, also known as K1, that blocks radiation from getting into the thyroid gland.

According to the CDC, "KI cannotprotect the body from radioactive elements other than radioactive iodineā€”if radioactive iodine is not present, taking KI is not protective."