The Department of Health will offer free potassium iodide, or KI, tablets on Thursday, Aug. 22, to Pennsylvanians who live or work within 10 miles of the state’s five nuclear power plants. Those picking up tablets will receive specific instructions from community health nurses on-site on how many tablets they should take only when instructed to do so.
“Emergency preparedness is an important aspect of public health, and having potassium iodide tablets for residents who live or work within 10 miles of a nuclear facility is an essential preparedness action in the case of a radiological emergency,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “KI helps protect the thyroid gland against harmful radioactive iodine and is safe for everyone. It’s important to remember potassium iodide should only be taken when instructed to by state health officials or the governor, and it is not a substitute for an officially recommended evacuation in the case of a radiological emergency at one of Pennsylvania’s nuclear facilities.”
KI can be taken by anyone, as long as they are not allergic to it. It is safe for pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding, people on thyroid medication, children and infants. Individuals who are giving KI to children and infants should follow instructions provided with the KI. If you are unsure if you should take potassium iodide because of a medical condition, ask your health care provider first.
Individuals can pick up KI tablets for other family members or those who are unable to get it on their own. Directions explaining when to take the KI tablets and how to store it are provided with the packages, and Department of Health staff will be available to assist those with any questions.
School districts and employers within a 10-mile radius can arrange to obtain their supply of KI tablets from the department. The tablets are also available year-round at county and municipal health departments or state health centers for those who live or work near a nuclear power plant.
The state’s five nuclear facilities are closely regulated, secure, well-maintained and monitored. The facilities are Beaver Valley Power Station, Limerick Generating Station, Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, and Three Mile Island Generating Station.
Although Three Mile Island Generating Station is slated to close on Sept. 30, residents who live or work within a 10-mile radius are still encouraged to obtain their supply of KI tablets.