KI-Potassium Iodine as Prophyactic Agent

To some this post may seem rather arcane trivia. But not if there  is a core-melt accident or an RDD or NUDET incident/event.

Some history first. Both the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory  Commission) and FEMA in its days of independence struggled with the issue of issuing KI tablets around the 10 mile plume established to implement EPA PAGs (Protective Action Guidance) for airborne and/or depositional material should their be a core-melt accident.  I don’t believe this issue ever addressed the Ingestion Pathway planning up to 50 miles out from the plant that was designed to implement the FDA PAGs for the so-called FOOD and Ingestion Pathway. But I could be wrong. Then in the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Prevention Act of 2002, a major post 9/11 statutory enactment, EPA was mandated to see that KI was issued domestically to the population around the nation’s nuclear power plants.

Then in 2005 HHS released the following:

“News Release           
Friday, March 18, 2005  HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343 
HHS Awards Bioshield Contract for Liquid Potassium Iodide
The Department of Health and Human Services today awarded a $5.7 million contract to Fleming & Company, Pharmaceuticals of Fenton, Mo. for the manufacture and delivery of 1.7 million pediatric doses of liquid potassium iodide (KI). This supply of liquid KI, which is being purchased under the BioShield program, would be used in the event of a release of radioactive iodine, a commonly produced material in commercial nuclear power facilities.

The liquid KI formulation is the first to be developed specifically for children. Its black raspberry taste is designed to make it more palatable to children. Current adult dose tablets are bitter and must be broken into pieces to get a child’s dose. The new formulation is delivered using a graduated eyedropper.

“The acquisition of this new and easy-to-administer pediatric KI formulation is an important step forward for our nation’s radiological preparedness program,” Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness Stewart Simonson, said.

Because the thyroid gland rapidly absorbs any iodine in the body, people need to take KI soon after an incident that involves the release of radioactive iodine, such as could occur in the vicinity of a nuclear commercial power facility. The KI saturates the thyroid gland with iodine, thus preventing the thyroid from absorbing additional, radioactive iodine. However, KI does not prevent the effects of any other radioactive elements.

Approval of the liquid KI as a pediatric formulation was given last year by the Interagency Weapons of Mass Destruction Medical Countermeasures Subcommittee. Children are the most susceptible to the dangerous effects of radioactive iodine.

Once it is delivered to HHS, the pediatric KI will be made available to states that submit and receive approval from HHS for plans they develop to distribute the new product in communities around commercial nuclear power plants.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved KI in tablet form as a nonprescription drug for use as a “blocking agent” to prevent the human thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine. On Jan. 12, 2005, the FDA granted approval to Fleming for their product ThyroShieldTM (Potassium Iodide Oral Solution, USP) 65 mg/ml for children.         

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at  .
Last revised: March 18, 2005
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I have lost track of this issue and exactly what published guidance is outstanding from HHS/CDC, FEMA, DHS, and NRC concerning the administration of KI. Hoping that a joint document reflecting current guidance could be made available rapidly. The NY Times in a relatively comprehensive article by Matt Wald on December 6, 2009 issued the following report:


Hey I have been trying to keep track but the NY Times story demonstrates it is the Obama Administration that now has the task of establishing federal policy so where is that policy? Stuck at the WH?

About vlg338
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One Response to KI-Potassium Iodine as Prophyactic Agent

  1. The Bush administration invoked a loophole in the law that allowed it to come up with an alternative to expanding the distribution zone. The Bush administration said evacuations and removal of contaminated food are more effective ways to prevent cancer.
    Thank you for a post, this was very helpful
    keep it up!!!

    Potassium Iodide

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