New York (CNNBusiness) As Russia’s assault in Ukraine intensifies, fear of radioactive fallout from accidental or intentional attacks on Ukraine’s nuclear plants, or from the use of a nuclear bomb, has triggered surging demand for potassium iodide pills.
In such an event, there’s the frightening risk of large amounts of radioactive iodine (or radioiodine) being released into the atmosphere which can be breathed into lungs as well as contaminate water, soil, plants and animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although potassium iodide itself isn’t harmful and is an important chemical that’s needed by the human body, the CDC says radioactive iodide can harm the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck that produces many of the hormones that regulate the body.
The danger is that if radiation exposure occurs, the thyroid gland can’t distinguish between regular iodine and radioiodine and will absorb both. Too much exposure can lead to thyroid cancer.
When used as directed, potassium iodide in liquid or pill form can quickly saturate the thyroid gland and prevent it from absorbing radioactive iodine.
Price gouging sets in
Large manufacturers of potassium iodide approved for sale in the United Sates have seen their inventories rapidly depleted in recent weeks, coinciding with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
As supplies in the market dry up, price gouging has set in.
On eBay (EBAY), four boxes of Thyrosafe potassium iodide tablets were listed for $132.50 on Monday.
Another listing for a box of IOSAT 130 mg pills was selling for $89.95 each. The 14-pack box of the IOSAT tablets, made by Anbex, sell for $13.99 on the manufacturer’s website.
It’s also important to know that potassium iodide pills aren’t a cure-all and don’t offer 100% protection against radioactive iodine.
The CDC warns that a single dose protects the thyroid gland for just 24 hours … read more.
FEATURED IMAGE: Iosat Potassium Iodide tablets