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Iodine emergency preparedness in the Municipality of Lier

In the event of radioactive emissions, the Norwegian Directorate of Health recommends giving iodine tablets to specific group in society which include children, adolescents, and women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Kindergartens and schools in Lier have stocks of iodine tablets on hand. We also recommend that all households comprised of persons under the age of 40 have iodine tablets at home.

The Norwegian authorities and the Municipality of Lier are monitoring the situation in Ukraine closely. The Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA) is on standby and the municipalities have been asked to review their procedures for iodine preparedness and distribution. "The municipality will not to be distributed iodine tablets to its inhabitants in advance, but we do have emergency stocks available for all the target groups.

Iodine tablets can be purchased at any pharmacy," said chief municipal physician Ingrid Bjerring. Many people have already purchased iodine tablets in recent days. We are aware that some of the pharmacies have sold out all their iodine tablets. Contact your nearest pharmacy for more information. The tablets should not be confused with nutritional supplements that contain iodine. Nutritional iodine supplements only contain a few micrograms of iodine, while iodine tablets contain 65-135 mg depending on the manufacturer. Table salt is not a viable substitute for iodine tablets.  

Why should I have iodine at home?

You should have everything you need at home in case of emergency situations. The goal here is to avoid moving about unnecessarily, which can create traffic queues, unrest and crowds. Regardless of the situation in Ukraine, DSA recommends that anyone under the age of 40 have iodine tablets stored at home as part of their general emergency preparedness.

In the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant, acts of war involving nuclear weapons or emissions from ships with nuclear reactors, we may be exposed to radioactive fallout. This fallout contains radioactive iodine that increases the risk of thyroid cancer – especially for children, adolescents, and women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Taking a single iodine tablet is adequate protection from such events. Iodine tablets protect against radioactive iodine only, not other radioactive substances.  

Emergency preparedness in kindergartens and schools

All kindergartens and schools in Lier have stocks of iodine tablets on hand. These are not to be distributed in advance. They are only used if DSA recommends taking iodine tablets during the time the children are in kindergarten or school.

If the parents do not want their children to receive a tablet in the event of a nuclear accident, it is important that they notify the school or kindergarten.

Children with hypocomplementemic urticarial vasculitis (HUV) and dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) should not take iodine tablets. These are very rare diseases in children. Ingestion of iodine causes worsening of these diseases and is therefore not recommended. It is important for households with members under the age of 40 to have iodine tablets available at home in case of an emergency.

What do I do if I do not have iodine tablets at home?

In the event of an nuclear event, the city will set up pickup points where the tablets are made available to the target groups. This is to ensure access to iodine tablets for those who need one (children and adolescents up to the age of 18, and women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding) who do not have this available at home. The location of the pickup points will be sent to all the city's inhabitants by SMS.

Who should take iodine tablets?

Children and adolescents under the age of 18, and women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding are at greatest risk of getting thyroid cancer after being exposed to radioactive iodine. Tablets for adults between the ages of 18 and 40 may also be relevant in very special situations, while those over the age of 40 have very little risk of getting thyroid cancer and do not need to take a tablet.

Persons who have had their thyroid gland removed do not need to take iodine tablets. Children aged 0-2 years are most at risk. Parents will therefore be given tablets for their child at the 6-week health check, as long as there are tablets available. Those who have not received a tablet should visit the child health clinic for information and to receive a tablet. Different manufacturers make tablets in different strengths, so the dosage will depend on the age of the child. Always check the dosage on the package before giving a tablet to your child.

When should the iodine tablet be taken?

The tablets shall only be taken when the National Crisis Committee for Nuclear and Radiological Preparedness  advises its use. In the event of a nuclear accident, the national authorities will be on high alert and the target groups will be informed if and when to take iodine tablets. Information for the general population and municipal enterprises will also be provided by the emergency response team in the municipality.

To have any effect, take the iodine tablet up to 48 hours before and no later than 4 hours after we are exposed to radioactive fallout. That is when the thyroid gland (the gland on the throat that produces thyroid hormones) is saturated with normal iodine, and the radioactive iodine is not absorbed. Children who are 0-6 weeks old must be given iodine by a healthcare professional in case of radioactive fallout. They must visit a child health clinic if the accident occurs during normal working hours. On other days/times of the day, the Nøstehagen living and care center is responsible (Nøstehagen bo- og omsorgssenter).  

Are there side effects when using iodine tablets?

Like all medicines, iodine tablets can cause side effects, but the incidence of side effects is low. Side effects rarely occur with a single table of potassium iodide if the warnings and precautions are followed. The frequency of side effects is very low at any age. Metabolic disorders and allergic reactions occur, but the risk of side effects is greatest in people who have a thyroid disease from before. Overdose of iodine tablets can cause swelling in the neck due to an enlarged thyroid gland (struma). Therefore, only take a tablet if you have been notified to do so by the authorities.  

Shelf life

Iodine (potassium iodide) is very stable. As long as the tablets are stored dry and in a dark place at normal room temperature, they will be functional even if the "best before" date has been exceeded. With proper storage, shelf life is almost infinite.  

You can find more information about iodine tablets and information in other languages on the DSA website: https://dsa.no/atomberedskap/jodtabletter

General self-preparedness

Regardless of the situation in Ukraine, we would like to take this moment to remind you about national advice on self-preparedness. There may be situations where you lose electricity for several days, or you cannot drink tap water at home. One should always be prepared for such situations.

The basic needs that must be met in the first three days of a crisis are staying warm, drinking water, food, medicines, hygiene and getting information. Many of us already have a good deal of what we need to fend for ourselves for a few days, so there is not often much needed to be prepared.        

Sist oppdatert: 09. mars 2022