Nuclear threat: Can you buy iodine tablets on the Internet?

The answer is no. Neither on the Internet nor in pharmacies. The management of stable iodine tablets is extremely regulated. Distributed in the event of radioactive fallout, they are normally reserved for the population living within a radius of 20 km around a nuclear power plant.

If you type the words “iodine tablets” into Google, the search engine will only offer you natural iodine capsules for sale, most of the time from seaweed. Anything else selling stable iodine would be a scam. The distribution of iodine pellets is indeed very framed by theNuclear Safety Authority (ASN).

In France, stable iodine is not freely available. Distribution is reserved for people living near nuclear power plants, within a radius of 20 kilometres. The famous tablets “are distributed in a preventive manner around installations presenting a risk of radioactive iodine emissions” specifies the ASN. No need to rush to pharmacies near you. They don’t have any stock.

Procuring iodine tablets as a preventive measure is useless. We don’t have any available. If it is relevant that people who live near a power plant have them at home, for others not. There is no immediate risk of contamination by radioactive iodine.

Frank Blandamour

President of the Order of Pharmacists of Normandy

Stable iodine is an over-the-counter product, impossible to find because pharmacists do not have it in stock. He also impossible to find on the Internet. Only food supplements with a very low dose of natural iodine are offered for sale. “For food supplements, the iodine dosage is much too low to protect the thyroid. A large quantity is needed, which is only found in tablets distributed in pharmacies located within the perimeter of nuclear power plants” adds Franck Blandamour.

Stable iodine pellets are intended to protect the thyroid during an emission of radioactive iodine caused, for example, by an incident at a nuclear power plant. The thyroid gland readily absorbs iodine-131, a highly volatile radioactive isotope, which causes an increased risk of cancer. Potassium iodide lozenges have the effect of saturating the thyroid, to the point that it can no longer absorb radioactive iodine. But be careful, it should not be taken anyhow. Only one to two hours before exposure to radioactive releases. Taking it preventively is useless and can cause side effects.

Taking stable iodine, if not needed, will have no effect for the vast majority of the population. But for people with thyroid disease, it may trigger side effects. Above all, we must not take it, if we are asked not to.

Professor Pierre Vera

Nuclear physician, Director of the Henri Becquerel Center

In the event of a serious nuclear crisis, the State has set up stocks and distribution circuits to protect the population outside the zones defined around the nuclear power plants. The prefects are responsible for managing these stocks.

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Nuclear threat: Can you buy iodine tablets on the Internet?

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