2022 Radiation Issues:
March 1, 2022 Part 1
Paul Herscu ND, MPH
Hello and welcome.
Let me say that I hate to even bring this topic up. I really do.
It has been several months since the last time I wrote here. For me there has not been any real new news on the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, for the past three months. I know it sounded odd when described in the fall of 2021, but I think it is starting to be agreed by everyone at this point that the pandemic mandates will mostly cease to exist by April at the latest. I know, it seemed odd for me to say this almost half a year ago, but there you go. I am not writing about this virus here, now. I will do that soon.
This update is a short one, just related to the war in Europe just now. And just as a prudent cautionary suggestion. In my sleepless nights, and nightmare scenarios, as I am pacing the floor praying for some peace, I think about what are worst case scenarios, (as if war is not enough.) I do not think this will happen. But human error…Here I think about human errors and a simple mistake that escalates war to the use to radioactive munitions. Without any one actually planning it, human error could lead to some radiation escape. And while radiation escape from a bomb releases several elements and isotopes, much we could not do anything about, there is one that we could, that of iodine. In a very short description, when an explosion occurs, it releases amongst other things iodine that is radioactive. Our bodies need iodine, and we take it up readily. The radioactive iodine then travels to the thyroid causing problems, as in thyroid cancers. However, if your body was sort of full of iodine, then the receptor site is ‘taken up’ and the radioactive iodine is not taken by the thyroid. In other words, taking nonradioactive iodine into the body protects you from taking radioactive iodine into the body. It does nothing for the other radiation, but does protect against the iodine portion of it.
Therefore, it is suggested, by all medical authorities, that in case of a nuclear exposure, if this nightmare happens, people take potassium iodide pills. For my colleagues in Europe, and really just for them now, I am not sure of your ordering procedure, but perhaps you can ask your local pharmacies to order potassium iodide pills, just in case. And if not enough, then making sure the children, who are the most vulnerable to this exposure causing problems. Again, as a clinician, there is very little I can do to stop or change the course of a war. But as a clinician there are things we can do to limit the environmental stress upon the individual and the population. This one seems like an easy one. In short, get potassium iodide into the health care system, ready to be deployed in the area, if one hears that radioactive arms were released, by design or by error. If not needed to be used, no worries, and you can count it as a drill. And if needed, it will save many lives. A nightmare partially averted. Here is one reference from the FDA about Potassium Iodide which contains pretty much most questions you might have.
I have one final comment here. Many folks think of public health issues as being unique or one time only. But in fact they comprise of universal issues that recur. Sadly, and oddly, there was nothing particularly new about the public health issues in SARS-CoV-2, which is why I was able to describe what will happen in the following months, which occurred. Understanding what those issues are, which is not actually that complex, would help everyone deal with it better.
Sadly, issues around radiation also recur. For a variety of reasons, they recur. Therefore, I think it may be useful to understand radiation issues in general. I wrote about this a long time ago, and will post these following here, just for background understanding.
Until then, here is to praying that this nightmare in Europe ends shorty.
Paul Herscu ND, MPH