Iodide pill orders skyrocket in Ontario after false alarm nuclear alert
After an emergency alert about a situation at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station was sent in error to millions of people in Ontario this past weekend, residents placed 32,388 orders for potassium iodide (KI) pills in the span of two days.
Ontario Power Generation told the Canadian Press that there are typically between 100 and 200 orders for the pills each month, but all 32,388 orders were placed between Sunday and Monday following the incident.
"In the very unlikely event of a nuclear emergency and a release of radioactive iodine to the public, KI pills will help prevent the development of thyroid cancer, and are especially effective at safeguarding children's thyroid glands," according to preparetobesafe.ca, a website operated by Durham Region, the City of Toronto and Ontario Power Generation.
Potassium iodide pills with my froot loops, mmm delicious— Stewart Russell (@scruss) January 12, 2020
(They are free if you are within 50 km of an Ontario nuclear facility: https://t.co/cdoBtWHqyl )
All homes and businesses in Ontario within 10 km of nuclear facilities are required by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to have KI pills on hand.
FYI - anyone within a 10km-radius of the Pickering, Darlington and Bruce nuclear facilities in Ontario has been provided with potassium iodide (KI) pills time take in the event of a radiological leak.— Brian Hill (@brianhillGlobal) January 12, 2020
Anyone within 50 km of nuclear facilities is also encouraged to order KI for delivery through preparetobesafe.
Anyone within 50km of a nuclear power plant in Ontario can get potassium iodide pills delivered for free: https://t.co/uDI4ZtqfIO (They're about the only specific precaution you can take; they reduce the probability of getting thyroid cancer after a leak of radioactive iodine.)— binary smasher (@kiwinerd) January 12, 2020
"It is important for each household to have a supply of these pills because they are most effective if taken just before or soon after exposure to radioactive iodine," the preparetobesafe website explains.
The website also states that the risk of side effects is extremely low for all age groups who have normal thyroid function and that "the overall benefit during a nuclear emergency outweighs the risks of side effects."
In event of a nuclear situation - anyone located near a nuclear should have KI (Potassium Iodide) on hand.— Zach Bussey (@zachbussey) January 12, 2020
The Ontario Gov't has a program where you can request the pills for free. While it's a little late right NOW, consider getting them for the future.https://t.co/nPjQJ5OSvT
It also instructs residents to only take the pills if instructed to do so by the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario during an emergency.
Following the initial alert sent out to all of Ontario early Sunday morning, another message was issued informing residents that it had been a mistake and there was no active nuclear situation taking place.
Ontario has since launched an investigation into the false alarm.
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