IODINE for Radiation Exposure

Don’t panic please. At this point radiation has only leaked from the Dai-Ichi plant and has not contaminated the air beyond about a 12-mile radius at levels “worse than 3-Mile Island, but way below levels of Chernobyl” according to an AP report tonight, March 14.

However, in case of massive leakage and eastward drift of radiation, standard prophylactic dosing is 100mg Iodine/day (oral) for an adult throughout the duration of the exposure. This would be 2 drops of SSKI(super saturated potassium iodine) or 16 drops of Lugol’s (adult dose) in some water; mix with juice etc… for kids.

Here’s some information about the use of topical iodine (e.g. Betadine/Povidone iodine).

Absorption thorough the skin is variable, but in a pinch can be used to provide iodine and protectively saturate the thyroid. Dosing is 8ml of 10% Povidone Iodine applied topically (NEVER internally) to the forearm or abdomen, daily X 8 days. Not something to prescribe right now necessarily, but good to know if there were ever an acute radiation incident. OTC antiseptic iodine is more accessible than potassium iodide (KI) or iodine tablets, if there were an acute local radiation event.

Please consider dietary consumption of seaweeds, especially kelp, which right now is probably the best idea for people that want to feel like they are doing something. At this time, the plants in Japan have NOT melted down — although the danger certainly still exists.

It’s never a good idea to issue mass edicts about supplementation and health issues. There are obvious concerns about individual people with pre-existing issues: iodine allergies, thyroid issues, pregnancy,
potentials for overdose, etc…

I think the possibility of creating a panic, and over-prescribing iodine unnecessarily could be worse than the airborn fallout we might receive from Japan. This may change if the reactor situation worsens, but for now I think that for us on the US West Coast this is more of an educational opportunity than a medical situation. It certainly isn’t a public health emergency. For the people in Japan it is a different story, and
our thoughts and prayers go out to them.

Here is some published info from the FDA & CDC on radiation exposure preparation for health care professionals.