With the current threat of a nuclear exchange in which 2 or more countries may be involved, including the U. S., we are beginning to see renewed endeavors to warn people of impending doom. While many of these efforts are well-intentioned, much of the information that is disseminated is nothing but fear mongering and misinformation, oftentimes in an attempt to sell some service or product. Currently, there is a plethora of posts, articles, ads, podcasts, etc. concerning radiation poisoning and what you can do to prevent it or treat it. Much of this well-intended information comes from individuals that are trying to help but are not armed with enough facts. This article is very long but, with the help of a trusted friend in the medical profession that has spent a great deal of time in this field, I think you will find it chock-full of helpful information.
To begin with, there’s much confusion about what “radiation poisoning” even is much less what to do about it. Radiation poisoning or radiation sickness is caused by a large dose of radiation, that was received rather quickly, that does damage to the body internally. Obviously, the amount of radiation that the body absorbs will determine how sick the individual will get.
Now, here’s where the confusion starts… While certain symptoms of radiation poisoning can be treated, there’s no such thing as an “anti-radiation" pill or treatment, contrary to what you hear on the news or see in the movies. The vast majority of people assume that potassium iodide (KI) or potassium iodate (KI03) is some magic cure or preventative for radiation sickness. It is not. KI and KI03 does one thing and one thing only. They protect the thyroid gland from iodine isotopes or radioactive iodine that is found after nuclear detonations or accidents, by filling it with good iodine until it cannot accept anymore, thus preventing the contaminated iodine from entering.
Iodine is a beta emitter, Beta radiation is high speed positrons or electrons They can be stopped by a layer of foil or even heavy clothing.
The half life of the iodine isotopes is about 8-9 days. It is NOT recommended to take KI for more than 10 days UNLESS there is an extended hazard IE multiple detonations.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN
KI and KI03?
While both products are considered good thyroid blockers and the names are sound nearly the same, that is where the similarities end. Long story short, potassium iodide is superior in every way to potassium iodate.
Potassium iodate is not approved by the FDA where potassium iodide is. The FDA has gone to great lengths to get KI03 pulled off of store shelves but it can still be found on the internet if you look hard enough. Since it is not regulated nor approved, the chemical make-up of KI03 may not be consistent. KI, on the other hand, is consistent, stable, effective, inexpensive, and has a very long shelf life.
According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, KI tablets have a 10+ year shelf life when stored cool and dry (KI liquid lasts 5 years). However, they also say that the chemical make-up of KI is so stable that it still good much, much longer than that. They say that after 10 years, the tablets may become harder and not dissolve as readily. The solution is to crush the tablets up and mix with juice or something and the effectiveness is unchanged.
The remainder of this article will pertain to potassium iodide (KI) only!
WHO SHOULD TAKE KI?
Infants (including breast-fed infants)
Infants have the highest risk of getting thyroid cancer after being exposed to radioactive iodine. All infants, including breast-fed infants need to be given the dosage of KI (potassium iodide) recommended for infants.
· Infants (particularly newborns) should receive a single dose of KI. More than a single dose may lead to later problems with normal development. Other protective measures should be used.
· In cases where more than one dose is necessary, medical follow up may be necessary.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that all children internally contaminated with (or likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine take KI (potassium iodide), unless they have known allergies to iodine (contraindications).
The FDA recommends that young adults (between the ages of 18 and 40 years), internally contaminated with (or likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine take the recommended dose of KI. Young adults are less sensitive to the effects of radioactive iodine than are children.
Because all forms of iodine cross the placenta, pregnant women should take KI to protect the growing fetus. Pregnant women should take only one dose of KI following internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine.
Women who are breastfeeding should take only one dose of KI if they have been internally contaminated with (or are likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine. They should be prioritized to receive other protective action measures.
Adults older than 40 years should not take KI unless public health or emergency management officials say that contamination with a very large dose of radioactive iodine is expected.
· Adults older than 40 years have the lowest chance of developing thyroid cancer or thyroid injury after contamination with radioactive iodine.
· Adults older than 40 are more likely to have allergic reactions to or adverse effects from KI.
Some adults with certain cardiac arrhythmias should limit KI doses. High levels of Potassium can cause heart rhythm changes.
As with all medications it should not be taken for “Just in Case.”
KI Tablets are sometimes in short supply but may be available in bulk powder form. There are many ways to prepare the powdered form of KI.
For those that reload their own ammunition your powder scale can weigh out accurate doses using this formula:
1 grain by weight equals 64.8 mg of KI.
Dosage of KI:
Adults 135 mg once every 24 hours until radiation hazard is past.
Children under 12 or 100 lbs 65 mg.
The best for storage of KI powder, but the hardest to do, is to make capsules. Capsules and the kits to fill them are available on Amazon and other places for around 20 bucks. They take a little practice but make great capsules.
If the proper amount of KI is not sufficient by volume to fill the capsules you are using, crush vitamin C tablets to a powder and use that to make up the difference.
Making a Potassium Iodide Liquid Mixture:
1. Put one 65 mg KI tablet into a small bowl and grind it into a fine powder using the back of a metal teaspoon against the inside of the bowl. The powder should not have any large pieces.
2. Add 4 teaspoons of water to the crushed KI powder in the bowl and mix until the KI powder is dissolved in the water.
3. Take the KI water mixture solution made in step 2 and mix it with 4 teaspoons of low fat white or chocolate milk, orange juice, flat soda, raspberry syrup, or infant formula.
4. The KI liquid mixture will keep for up to 7 days in the refrigerator. It is recommended that the KI liquid mixtures be prepared weekly. Throw away unused portions.
The amount of KI (65 mg tablet) in the drink when mixed as described above is 8.125 mg per teaspoon. The number of teaspoons of the drink to give your child depends on your child's age as described in the following table:
* 12 to 18 years of age and less than 150 pounds - 8 teaspoons = 65 mg dose.
* 3 to 12 years - 8 teaspoons = 65 mg dose.
* 1 month to 3 years - 4 teaspoons = 32.5 mg dose.
* Birth to 1 month - 2 teaspoon = 16.25 mg dose.
This method works well for adults that are unable to take solids also.
The simplest method with bulk KI is to weigh out the dose and place it in a shot of water and drink it down. But it is NASTY!
So there you have it! Buying huge quantities of KI is unnecessary unless you’re buying for friends or other family members. With that said, don’t wait too long to get it either. During the Fukishima meltdown in 2011, I saw many, many 15 dollar bottles of KI sell for $100 on eBay. If there is a nuclear accident, or if nuclear war becomes more likely, the harder it will be to find and the more expensive it will be.
While you’re buying, get a dosimeter for each member of your family and an inexpensive Geiger counter. Make sure your Geiger counter detects Alpha radiation!
Again, nuclear war is totally survivable. Get educated, keep your wits together and stay prepared!