Question: What Are Radiation Pills?
Radiation pills may be given in the event of nuclear accidents, nuclear attacks or in the course of certain radioactive medical treatments. Here's a look at what radiation pills are and what is in them.
Answer: Radiation pills are tablets of potassium iodide, a common salt. Potassium iodide is a source of dietary iodine, so the way radiation pills work is by saturating the thyroid with stable iodine so that radioactive iodine isotopes aren't needed and thus aren't absorbed by the body. Potassium iodide or KI is effective at protecting the thyroid of developing fetuses, babies, children and young adults from developing thyroid cancer from exposure to iodine isotopes. A dose of potassium iodide is effective for 24 hours. However, the pills don't protect against any other form of radiation exposure nor do they protect any other organ. They can't reverse damage that has already occurred. Radiation pills aren't effective for persons over the age of 40 because their thyroid activity doesn't cause them to suffer much of an effect from iodine radioisotope exposure.