Iodine tablets are in the mail to millions of Swiss citizens as part of the country’s preparation for a disaster at one of its nuclear power plants.
In 2014, about 4.6 million potassium iodide tablets were sent out, according to SwissInfo. With a 10-year life span, those are now expiring.
Everyone living within 50 kilometers of one of the country’s three nuclear power plants will get their iodine tablets in the mail. That totals about 4 million people, according to the website jodtabletten.
The total is down from 2014 because one nuclear power plant in Mühleberg has been shut down.
Under the Swiss plan to protect its people, everyone within 50 kilometers of a plant receives surplus pills in case there is someone with them who needs some.
The Swiss government has purchased enough tablets to cover the entire population of the country, with local governments in charge of keeping tablets in areas outside the 50-kilometer limit.
Businesses and schools will be supplied with tablets in 2024.
People in 779 Swiss municipalities will receive the tablets, according to SwissInfo.
Iodine tablets are designed to reduce the risk of thyroid cancer due to radiation. Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health said the tablets are particularly effective for anyone less than 45 years old and can help protect children as young as two months old.
The Swiss have thought of everything “In case of an accident in a nuclear power plant with radiation leakage” https://t.co/IqW9GC5A07
— Anna Magnisali (@annamagni) October 23, 2023
Swiss officials have cautioned residents not to take the tablets until they are informed by government officials from the National Emergency Operations in the event of an emergency.
Switzerland plans to recycle the old pills and recover the iodine within them.
Potassium iodide pills are given in case of radiation exposure to protect the thyroid gland. Radioactive iodine is released during nuclear accidents or events, and if inhaled or ingested, it can accumulate in the thyroid, increasing the risk of thyroid cancer.
— Dr Khan (@kimiyadan) October 27, 2023
The government has purchased 12 million packs of iodine tablets, according to SwissInfo.
The prevention effort costs about 34 million Swiss francs. The nuclear power plant operators pay a third of the bill, according to Bloomberg.
Switzerland’s existing policy is to keep its nuclear plants as long as they continue to function.
In a survey of 9,000 people, 56 percent supported new nuclear power plants, while only 37 percent supported the Green Party’s call to end the use of nuclear power by 2037.