Although Finnish officials say that there is no need for Finns to start self-medicating with iodine, demand for the pills increased across the country on Saturday. In some cases, pharmacies reported that their supplies had sold out.
Stable iodine or potassium iodine can be taken to reduce the risk of exposure to radioactive iodine. It works by increasing the total amount of iodine in the body, thereby reducing the thyroid’s ability to absorb and retain any radioactive iodine to which individuals may be exposed.
Officials from Finland’s Radiation Safety Authority (STUK) have emphasized that the nuclear plant explosion in Japan is no reason for Finns to begin treating themselves with iodine.
Pharmacists have also tried to convey the message, but it has been difficult to calm the rattled public.
“The demand for iodine tablets has been very high everywhere. We received a large consignment at our Kaivopiha outlet today and it has already sold out,” said Tuija Tilander-Leppä of a downtown Helsinki branch of the Yliopiston Apteekki chain. She added that she had received similar reports from different parts of the country.
On Saturday, STUK stated that possible emissions from Japan posed no health risks for Finland. Finns currently in Japan are being asked to observe the directives issued by Japanese officials.