Disaster relief: NRW stores iodine tablets in bulk
North Rhine-Westphalia stores iodine tablets en masse to protect the population from possible nuclear accidents. In the western German state, there is a particularly high level of concern about radiation. Health experts warn against the "precautionary" use of such drugs.
Protection in the event of a reactor accident
In North Rhine-Westphalia, iodine tablets are stored in large quantities for preventive protection in the event of a reactor accident. In the fall, civil protection agencies across the country will equip themselves with millions of additional drugs of this kind. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Interior of North Rhine-Westphalia told the German Press Agency that North Rhine-Westphalia is the only federal state that has decentralized iodine tablets for all those in need of special protection.
Potassium iodide weakens the absorption of radioactive iodine
According to the information, potassium iodide is used in nuclear incidents, since it weakens the absorption of radioactive iodine in the body. According to the recommendations of the Radiation Protection Commission at the Federal Ministry for Nuclear Safety, which were updated in 2015, iodine tablets should now be kept available for an extended group of people. "Iodine tablets saturate the thyroid gland with non-radioactive iodine and thus prevent radioactive iodine from accumulating in the thyroid gland if taken in good time," says the Commission's general recommendations.
A warning is given about “preventive” medication
And further: "An intake is only necessary if, after the assessment of the situation, there is actually a fear of a significant release of radioactive iodine and the intervention levels may be exceeded." Health experts such as the German Society for Endocrinology (DGE) strongly advise against a "precautionary" Self medication. Inappropriate use of iodine tablets can harm the body. For example, there is a risk of hyperthyroidism.
No nuclear power plants in NRW
There are no nuclear power plants in NRW, but the concern is particularly great here. The blame for this is the breakdown series in nuclear reactors in neighboring Belgium. After several accidents, the Doel reactors near Antwerp and Tihange, which is about 70 kilometers from Aachen, are very controversial. They had already been switched off several times for security reasons.
Iodine tablets for all pregnant women, nursing mothers and minors
According to the new recommendations, iodine tablets should now be kept nationwide for all pregnant women, nursing mothers and minors. Previously, the recommendation only applied to those within a 100-kilometer radius of nuclear power plants. In addition, all up to 45-year-olds are included in the prophylaxis in this area.
Additional needs of 21 million tablets
According to information from the ministry, in 2014 NRW was still the only federal state to collect its quota of iodine tablets from the federal central warehouse and distribute it to the municipalities. However, the new recommendations would have created an additional need of around 21 million tablets.
Costs of around 800,000 euros
As the spokeswoman explained, the federal government is actually responsible for the purchase of the so-called iodine blockade. However, since this had not become active, the West German state decided to procure the drug itself. According to the information, the costs would be around 800,000 euros. The country reserves the right to request reimbursement. (ad)