Various news reports reveal an increase in demand for drugs, as well as devices, that manage exposure to radiation. Sales of Geiger counters and potassium iodide supplements have been brisk all over the United States, due to the fact that some Americans are concerned about the possible spread of radiation from damaged nuclear power plants in Japan – all the way to the United States.
Potassium iodide is used mainly for protection against thyroid cancer, which is induced by radiation, as shared in a feature on The New York Times. Jim Small, the president of the Swedish company Recipharm in America, shared that they have “sold more in the past three days than we have in the past three years.” Recipharm is a major supplier of potassium iodide in the United States.
Manufacturers of the drug shared that the drugs were not just being bought by individual consumers seeking protection; their customers also include companies that would like to provide the drugs to their employees in Japan.
Experts say, however, that there is no need for Americans to buy the pills. Americans are currently not, or likely to be, exposed to dangerous radiation levels from the nuclear plants in Japan. Kathryn A. Higley, head of nuclear engineering and radiation health physics at the Oregon State University, said: “There’s a huge body of water between us and Japan… I have two kids. I’m not concerned for my kids one iota.”
Elmer Lewis, a nuclear expert and professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at Northwestern University, shared: “I think it’s exceedingly improbable — I’d say impossible — that this accident would deliver any detectable amount of radiation at ground level in the United States… It would be barely detectable and have absolutely no health consequences.”