RADIATION EMERGENCY

  • With fears of a nuclear disaster at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant growing, the European Union has decided to pre-emptively supply 5.5 million Anti-Radiation Pills to be distributed among residents in the vicinity.
  • These are unplanned or accidental events that create radio-nuclear hazard to humans and the environment.
  • Such situations involve radiation exposure from a radioactive source and require prompt intervention to mitigate the threat.
  • Dealing with such an emergency also involves the use of anti-radiation tablets.

Anti-Radiation Pills

  • Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets, or anti-radiation pills, are known to provide some protection in cases of radiation exposure.
  • They contain non-radioactive iodine and can help block absorption, and subsequent concentration, of radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland.
  • After a radiation leak, radioactive iodine floats through the air and then contaminates food, water and soil.
  • Internal exposure, or irradiation, occurs when radioactive iodine enters the body and accumulates in the thyroid gland.
  • The thyroid gland, which uses iodine to produce hormones to regulate the body’s metabolism, has no way of telling radioactive from non-radioactive iodine.
  • Potassium iodide (KI) tablets rely on this to achieve ‘thyroid blocking’.
  • KI pills taken a few hours before or soon after radiation exposure ensure that non-radioactive iodine in the medicine is absorbed quickly to make the thyroid “full”.
  • The thyroid becomes full and cannot absorb any more iodine – either stable or radioactive – for the next 24 hours.
  • But KI pills are preventive only and cannot reverse any damage done by radiation to the thyroid gland.
  • Once thyroid gland absorbs radioactive iodine, those exposed are at a high risk of developing thyroid cancer.
  • Anti-radiation pills do not provide 100% protection.
  • The effectiveness of KI depends on how much radioactive iodine gets into the body and how quickly it is absorbed in the body.
  • Also, the pills are not meant for everybody. They are recommended for people under 40 years of age.

SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT

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