Pennsylvania distributes iodide tablets to residents who live near nuclear power plants

A nuclear power plant.
A nuclear power plant. Photo credit Peter Carr/The Journal News, Rockland/Westchester Journal News via Imagn Content Services

Pennsylvania residents who live or work within 10 miles of the state’s nuclear power plants can obtain potassium iodide tablets from state health officials over the next two weeks.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is distributing the free “KI” tablets on September 9 and 16 without appointments.

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“Emergency preparedness is an important aspect of public health,” said the department’s acting secretary Alison Beam. “Having potassium iodide tablets … is an essential preparedness action in the case of a radiological emergency.”

The tablets, which should only be taken when advised by a public health or emergency official, help protect the thyroid gland from harmful radioactive iodine. The Health Department said the tablets are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, infants, and people taking thyroid medication.

Beam noted the pills are not an adequate substitution for evacuation in case of an emergency at one of the facilities. Potassium iodide only protects the thyroid, not other parts of the body, ac