Radiation risk for Region 8 very small

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) -Despite President Obama's calls for calm that's not allaying many people's fears.  Many are worried as they watch events unfold at the nuclear plants in Japan and hear about radiation being released into the atmosphere.

"Their concerns are how much exposure to radiation that they possibly could get, if the radiation from the reactors in Japan were to come over to the United States," said Brad Doney, Radiation Safety Officer at St. Bernards.

Doney works in the Nuclear Medicine Department at the hospital and said there is very little risk to people in Region 8 from the radiation in Japan.

"We don't expect that there will be any fallout into the United States at this point," said Doney.

Many are asking about the drug Potassium Iodide.

"They are marketing them like they're the antidote for radiation poisoning and they're not," said Shawnda Krupicki, health physicist at St. Bernards.

Doney said the drug acts sort of like a sponge.

"It's absorbed into your thyroid and it saturates the thyroid to the point where you cannot absorb any more iodide," said Doney.

With no risk for Americans, even those who plan to travel to Hawaii or Alaska, taking it would not put you at an advantage.

"Don't buy them, don't take them because the side effects are so much worse than what the benefits could be because right not there really are none," said Krupicki.

"It can have side effects and it's really not advised for people to take this unless it's absolutely necessary," said Doney.

At St. Bernards they're constantly monitoring for radiation, so if there were something in the atmosphere they would know first.

Krupicki said most people should never take Potassium Iodide unless they are told to by a doctor.

"The real question is, is the risk of taking it is greater than the benefit you would get," said Doney.

As the Radiation Safety Officer, Doney said they do training throughout the year so that they are as prepared as they can be if they have to respond to a similar crisis here.

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