Reporting Charles Feldman
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The growing nuclear crisis in Japan has some Californians scrambling for potassium iodide tablets and personal radiation detectors, but officials say such a precaution is not necessary and can even be harmful.
Supplies of potassium iodide, a prevention against radiation poisoning of the thyroid gland, are running low at some manufacturers. Sales have shot through the roof of both the tablets and personal radiation detectors on Amazon.com, according to msnbc.com.
However, U.S. authorities say that the risks of radiation from Japan reaching the West Coast are low. The California Department of Public Health says Japan’s nuclear emergency presents no danger to California.
“There is minimal risk of harmful exposure,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the director of the county’s Department of Public Health. He added that federal and local agencies were continually monitoring levels of radiation in the air, food and water supply with equipment that is “exquisitely sensitive.”
According to an FAQ from the Department of Public Health, Californians should also resist taking potassium iodide tablets as a precaution, as they can be a danger to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish or who have thyroid problems.
Californians should instead take precautions against more likely local disasters like earthquakes and wildfires, Fielding said. Kits should include, water, food, cash, important documents, a change of clothing, a flashlight, first aid kit, wireless radio, medications or toiletries and any tools that might be needed to turn off gas lines, for example.