three questions about taking iodine tablets recommended in a nuclear accident

Europe held its breath during the Russian attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, on the night of Thursday 3rd to Friday 4th March. The fire was under control and no increase in radioactivity was observed in the area, said Barbara Pompili, the minister of Ecological Transition. But fears of a nuclear accident caused by fighting persist.

To support Ukraine, lso shipped to France “various medical products”including iodine, confirmed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, guest of France 2 on Sunday 6 March. Pharmacies in particular have been asked to supply this trace element in several European countries, such as France. Franceinfo takes stock.

1Why is iodine recommended for a nuclear risk?

using potassium iodide “will occur the thyroid to absorb the radioactive iodine released into the environment”, recalls the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN)In France, therefore, the prefects can decide on the distribution of iodine in the event of a nuclear accident, in parallel with the reception and evacuation of the population, adds the IRSN.

Today, in France, only people who live or work in a radius of 20 km around the 19 nuclear power plants “are asked to remove the iodine tablets in pharmacy” free, with proof The last distribution campaign involved 2.2 million people and more than 200,000 institutions, companies, schools or administrations, specifies the Ministry of Internal Affairs

But iodine tablets are not the panacea. she already do not protect against other radioactive elements such as cesium 134 or 137″, says IRSN.

Then, and most importantly, a nuclear accident or nuclear attack can release thousands of other radionuclides. “It is not even certain that radioactive iodine will be involved in a military nuclear attack.explains a spokesperson for the Nuclear Safety Authority to the specialist magazine Science and futureThe danger comes from elsewhere: the massive explosion and the heat, both of which are deadly.”

2How much is sent to Ukraine?

To help Ukraine equip itself in the event of a risk to the local population, France has decided to grains ofiodineunder different “medical products”the foreign minister confirmed to France 2 on Sunday, March 6.

Since the start of the Russian army’s invasion on February 24, Ukraine has faced the risk of a nuclear accident, thirty-five years after the disaster with Chernobyl, in the north of the country. The country has 15 reactors, spread over four active nuclear power plants. If there’s an explosion, that’s the end of everything”alarmed President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday, March 4.

>> War in Ukraine: which nuclear power plants are close to the battle zones with Russian troops?

In the coming days, ‘2.5 million doses of iodine to avert any nuclear threat’ will be delivered to Ukraine, according to theFrench ambassador to the country, Etienne de Poncins, interviewed on BFMTV Sunday March 6

3Why is there no point in looking for it in France?

Some pharmacies in Germany, Belgium and France have noticed an increased demand for iodine tablets in recent days. In the north, in Occitania or even in Alsace, the number of calls and questions from concerned people has increased. But itCustomers were rejected. Indeed, French pharmacies are not authorized to sell these tablets.

The phenomenon is not new. As early as 1986, just after the Chernobyl accident, pharmacists were approached and warned about the risks of self-medication, reports theNational Audiovisual Institute

The Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety reminds that iodine tablets “should be administered in a casual situation and only at the behest of the authorities”† Taking it should therefore not be preventive, insists an article updated in March 2022 and distributed by the Union of Community Pharmacists.

Besides being useless, excessive and regular intake of iodine can lead to: “thyroid dysfunctions” and “certain side effects, especially at heart or kidney level”, explains the National Health Security Agency (Anses). One of the most common side effects“nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain or palpitations”, sums up Science and future.

In addition, the National Order of Pharmacists recalls that in the event of a nuclear danger, the state’s iodine stocks, manufactured by the Central Armed Forces Pharmacy and the Serbian Laboratory, “would enable distribution of tablets to the entire population”