Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nuclear War Medication - Potassium Iodine (KI) for Radioactive Iodine

This article is a sub-post to Top Medication for a Nuclear War or Meltdown in this post I will discuss about the first medication for radiation fallout Radioactive Iodine (Iodine-131).

Iodine-131 is the most common radioactive by product of nuclear reactors, which is why in the case of a meltdown like Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima Daiichi in 2011 it is the biggest health concern. Practically however, protecting yourself from Iodine-131 is also the easiest. Being such a huge health concern for any country with nuclear reactors, huge stockpiles of medication have to be available if a disaster occurs. All these factors make the medication easily available and relatively cheap.

It is important to understand why Iodine-131 is so dangerous to understand the medication. In the last post I gave an example on how Iodine-131 and our body interacts but I'll repeat here more clearly. First it is important to understand that Iodine-131 is only attracted and absorbed in tissues that need Iodine to function. The body cannot make the difference between regular non-radioactive Iodine and the radioactive Iodine-131. Literally the only tissue that uses Iodine in our body is the Thyroid Gland. It uses Iodine to function and uses a lot of it. The problem is that when Iodine-131 is present in fallout dust particles in the air from a resulting nuclear accident or bomb, the body absorbs it with the contaminated air we breathe or the contaminated food we eat and it attaches itself to the Thyroid Gland. The Thyroid Gland then becomes saturated with Iodine-131 and it essentially becomes radioactive. Radiation being very dangerous because it causes mutation of cells (cancer) and destroys tissues, you are actively killing yourself. Whatever you do, wherever you go, you are now emitting radiation and it is killing you.

Now that we covered the problem, let's look at the solution. Current medication for Iodine-131 presents a simple solution, saturate the thyroid with non-radioactive Iodine and thus prevent Iodine-131 from being absorbed into the Thyroid Gland because there is simply no more space. Because the Thyroid Gland's Iodine supply is always at more than 100% any Iodine-131 that gets in your body just passes through and is not absorbed in you Thyroid Gland.

There is currently only three FDA (Federal Drug Administration) approved Potassium Iodine (KI) on the market. There are many other brands available such as: KIO3 (Iodate), KI4U, LifeExtension, I.A.A.A.M., NukeProtect, Pro KI, Rad Block, and others... These other brands are however NOT FDA APPROVED and thus quality control and effectiveness as a Iodine-131 blocker is unproved. For my part, I'll stick to the 3 FDA approved Potassium Iodine (KI) brands:

iOSAT by Anbex:
iOSAT is the first brand of Potassium Iodine (KI) that I will discuss which also happens to be the one I chose to stock up on. It is FDA approved for use as an Iodine-131 blocker. This one come in pill form in a 130mg dose. Anbex is a US company and makes it's products in the US which encourages local jobs. Anbex also has a very good reputation as it has the biggest government orders and provides to many local and state agencies and the military. This allows them to sell at a lower price because of mass production techniques. iOSAT has a shelf life of 7 years which is the longest of any Potassium Iodine (KI) formula which makes it better to stock up on. The con to iOSAT is that you have to break the pills up to give to children as 130mg is too much. Thus, if you plan on administering iOSAT to infants and children breaking up the pills then crushing them for children who cannot swallow pills can be a hassle.
Price per 130mg dose (1 pill) is 0.71$US

ThyroSafe by Recipharm AB:
ThyroSafe is another pill form of Potassium Iodine (KI) this time in 65mg dosage. It is FDA approved for use as an Iodine-131 blocker. The fact that it in in 65mg pill form makes it easier to give out to children because you don't have to break a 130mg pill in half. One of the cons, is that it is not a US company but a Swedish one, which discourages ''Made in the USA'' products. The biggest con that ultimately made me decide not to choose this product as my number one is the fact that shelf life for the product is 5 years, which is 2 years less than iOSAT which is 7 years. This makes it more expensive to always have a fresh stock of the product as you have to replace it more often. I must give in to the fact that of all 3 FDA approved brands of KI, Thyrosafe has the best visual appeal in packaging, what importance this is when you are about to die, none to me though. At almost twice the price of iOSAT it also makes it financially logical to go with iOSAT.
Price per 130mg dose (2 pills) is 1.19$US

ThyroShield by Fleming Pharmaceuticals:
ThyroShield is the last Potassium Iodine (KI) formula I will be talking about. It is FDA approved for use as an Iodine-131 blocker. This formula comes in liquid form which can have serious disadvantages as well as very useful advantages. The main advantage to me is that preparing a dose with a liquid formula requires more time and tools that simply popping a pill. However, this company is still very alive and the reason for it is that it has many government contracts for massive purchases of their product. The reason is simple, it is much more simple to control the dose with a liquid that having ''fun'' trying to break up a pill in pieces. For babies, infants, toddlers, children and adolescents adjusting the dose is really easy as you simply fill the dropper (shown in the picture left) to the specific number of ml and there you go. The whole product was designed over children, it is even raspberry flavoured to make it taste better. If you have kids that can't take the pill form, ThyroShield is recommended. The reason why I didn't choose this brand is that I don't have children that can't take the pill form, and it is much easier to swallow a pill that to try and measure liquid while on the go. The shelf life of ThyroShield is 5 years and is made in the USA.
Price per 130mg dose (2 droppers) is 1.33$US

Now that we know all the fancy information about the brands and prices it would be nice to know how much and how often do you have to take it. First of all, you have to take one full dose of Potassium Iodine (KI) every 24 hours to keep you protected. Neither the manufacturers or the FDA recommend overdosing on Potassium Iodine because it won't protect you more and you may get more side effects. The recommended dosage for Iodine in everyday life is 12.5mg a day, so when you take Potassium Iodine you are already overdosing 1040% of the daily dosage. Overdosing on Potassium Iodine which is already an overdose wouldn't be a wise thing to do.

Below is a chart on the dosage for Potassium Iodine in times of nuclear fallout:
Adults (18 years and over)                                        130mg per 24 hours
Adolescents and Children (3 to 18 years)                   65mg* per 24 hours
Children (1 month to 3 years)                                    32mg per 24 hours
Infants (Birth to 1 month)                                          16mg per 24 hours

*Adolescents over 150lbs should take the full 130mg dose.
Visit the FDA website for other details on the dosage

This concludes the post on the first type of radionuclides which there is medication for. In the next post I'll talk about Prussian Blue for Radioactive Thallium or Cesium137. If you have any questions or comments feel free to discuss it in the comments section and I'll be more than happy to answer. Lastly, don't count on government reserves of Potassium Iodine or any other medication for that fact, as when a nuclear war will break out o simply another nuclear accident, it will be a free-for-all for medication and in a couple days time there will be none left.


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