KI pills protect the thyroid in a nuclear incident

    Potassium iodide pills are available to people who live near a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.

    If you live near a Pennsylvania nuclear power plant, you should get your pills. The anti-radiation pills the Health Department distributed in 2002 have expired. The state is distributing new potassium iodide pills Sept. 1 through Sept. 3.
    (Photo:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mt_falldog/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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    During a serious nuclear incident, potassium iodide can protect the thyroid gland in the neck from absorbing cancer-causing radiation. The so-called KI pills are free to residents who live within 10 miles of Montgomery County’s Limerick Generating Station, or any of the four other Pennsylvania nuclear plants. Hershey resident Cindy Jones picked up her pills today.

    Jones: I don’t really know what to feel. I’m hoping we never need it. I’m hoping it’s kind of like an insurance policy, if you get it, you’ll never need it.

    In an emergency, the governor or state officials would direct residents when to take the pills, but for now the pills should be stored in a cool, dry place. This year’s pill formulation is a little different. Health officials say residents will have to review the instructions to understand the proper dosage for adults and children.

    A serious nuclear incident can release radioactive iodine into the air, and exposure can lead to thyroid cancer.

    New Cumberland resident Sandy Kraybill says, during an emergency, evacuating her family will be her first priority but having the pills makes her feel safer.

    Kraybill: They’re taped inside the medicine cabinet, in the envelope with the instructions. Both kids have been told what to do with them.

    Potassium iodide distribution sites in the Philadelphia region:
    11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    Berks County
    Keystone Fire Company
    240 N. Walnut St.
    Boyertown, PA 19512

    11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    Chester County
    Kimberton Fairgrounds
    Rt. 113 South of Seven Stars Rd.
    Kimberton, PA 19442

    9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    Montgomery County
    Hope Community Church
    2732 N. Charlotte St.
    Gilbertsville, PA 19525

    For more facts on potassium iodide go to the PA Health Department Web site or download the health department brochure on potassium iodide.

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