Radiation danger not significant

Provincial health officer says no need to stock up on iodide pills

While there is no expected health risk from radiation from nuclear reactors damaged in the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, according to provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall, there was a run on iodide in Oceanside.

Potassium iodide helps protect the thyroid from radiation, but it does have side-effects and Kendall is recommending against people buying or stockpiling it.

“From a pharmacist’s perspective we don’t want people taking something with side effects if they don’t need to,” said Parksville Pharmasave pharmacist Amy Sheppard.

She said they happened to be out of iodide and wouldn’t normally sell much, but they had about 30 people ask for it Tuesday. They printed out Kendall’s statement for customers and have been answering a lot of questions, but she points out it is there’s nothing to stop people from buying it.

“Based on present information, we do not expect any health risk following the nuclear reactor releases in Japan, nor is the consumption of potassium iodide tablets a necessary precaution,” Kendall said Tuesday.

“It is recommended that pharmacies do not dispense or stockpile potassium iodide tablets. Some pharmacies are reporting a run on sales of iodide tablets, which can protect the thyroid gland from the impact of being exposed to high-levels of radioactive iodine 131,” he said.

He said a major release of nuclear particles would take five to six days to reach B.C. and would be dispersed beyond being a health risk.

The BC Centre for Disease Control, along with governments in Canada, the U.S. and others will continue to monitor radiation levels.

“Even if radiation from Japan ever made it to British Columbia, our prediction based on current information, is that it would not pose any significant health risk.”