SNM: Japanese crisis is not making U.S. radiation levels harmful

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There is no radiation emergency in the U.S. or its territories and individuals need not purchase or ingest potassium iodide (KI) at this time, according to a joint statement issued by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), the American Thyroid Association (ATA), the Endocrine Society and the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM).

The societies noted that there have been fears of radiation exposure to populations in North America from the potential plume of radioactivity crossing the Pacific Ocean, following the release of radiation from an earthquake- and tsunami-stricken nuclear complex in Japan.

The statement suggested that the principal radiation source of concern is radioactive iodine including iodine-131 and the uptake to the thyroid can be blocked by taking KI pills. However, the statement discouraged individuals from purchasing or hoarding KI in the U.S. as current estimates have indicated that radiation levels will not be harmful to the thyroid gland or general health.

Since there is no radiation emergency in the U.S. or its territories, the statement did not support the ingestion of KI prophylaxis at this time. KI can cause allergic reactions, skin rashes, salivary gland inflammation, hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism in a small percentage of people, the statement noted.