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General Studies 3 >> Disaster Management

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                              Anti-Radiation Pills

Source: The Indian Express



The European Union decided to preemptively supply 5.5 million anti-radiation pills to be distributed among the residents of the vicinity, with the fears of nuclear disaster at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant growth.

The pills are to be taken only when there is a radiation leak.

Radiation emergency:

  • A radiation emergency is an unplanned event or an intentional act that creates a radio-nuclear hazard to humans and the environment.
  • These situations involve radiation exposure from a radioactive source & require prompt intervention.

Anti-Radiation Pills:

  • Potassium iodide (KI) tablets or anti-radiation pills are known to provide some protection in case of radiation exposure.
  • They contain non-radioactive iodine which can help in blocking the absorption of radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland.
  • After a radiation leak, radioactive iodine floats through the air and then contaminates food, water and soil.
  • While radioactive iodine deposited during external exposure can be removed by using warm water, and soap; inhaling it poses a bigger risk, as per WHO.
  • The thyroid gland, which uses iodine to produce hormones to regulate the body’s metabolism, has no way of telling the difference between radioactive & non-radioactive iodine.
  • Potassium iodide is a salt that protects us from radioactive iodine.
  • Thyroid gland is a part of our body, that is most sensitive to radioactive iodine.
  • KI can help block the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine if it is inhaled.
  • But, KI can’t protect the rest of the body from radioactive iodine.
  • It also cannot reverse any health issues caused by radioactive iodine if the thyroid is already damaged.
  • The Food & Drug Administration(FDA) released guidance on how to safely use potassium iodide.
  • In pill, liquid form, it can help protect during a nuclear radiation emergency.
  • When potassium iodide is taken, the thyroid absorbs it and if the right amount is taken at right time, it will saturate the thyroid gland.
  • This can help block any inhaled or ingested radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid which lowers the risk for radiation damage to the gland.

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