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.

KNX 1070’s Charles Feldman Reports

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.

Comments (15)
  1. TT says:

    i hope the FDA is monitoring what these people are getting charged for their medical supplies to make sure that the drug companies are not taking advantage of the situation because they are in crisis and charge higher prices for things people desparately need…..

    1. lotsoflaughs says:

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    2. Duh! says:

      Ummm… that is called economics. The law of Supply and Demand. Didn’t you pay attention in school?

      You are seeing the same exact principle in effect right now with the gasoline prices going up. Unrest in the Middle East is creating a shortage of supply. Thus the price for oil goes up.

      Now that there is a shortage of the supply of potassium iodide, the price should also go up.

      I can’t help it that people are idiots and buying up things that they don’t need. You get more radiation from the sun than you will get from the Japanese reactors. Get educated instead of making uninformed decisions.

      1. Jason Collins says:

        Perhaps you should study more about economics and their governing laws before you start making condescending remarks. Price gouging is not acceptable supply and demand to maintain sustainable capitalism. That is why MOST states, and nearly very state that has potential for natural disaster, (like California, or gulf coast states), actually have LAWS in place to stop gouging. Look it up on the Department of Consumer Affairs government website. Here’s a bit about California:


        Now… didn’t YOU pay attention in school?

  2. Jaime says:

    Ummm…this sounds like the government officials in Japan when the first problems started with the reactors. Reactor #1 Boom! “there is nothing to worry about” Reactor #2 Boom! “there is nothing to worry about.” Reactor #3 Boom! “There’s nothing to worry about.” I’m not to trusting of what officials say too much these days.

  3. Molecule says:

    Remember The Japanese lied about gas pedals sticking . Do you really think they are telling the truth about radiation. I saw a news post on the web that they are trying to recruit retired workers to come back to the reactors. Approx 800 workers at the plants are reported to have hit the road. They said they had like 50 people left. What about people that worked at those plants that were swept away in the disaster.

  4. Molecule says:

    Reactor #3 blew up because they forgot to put diesel fuel in the generators pumping sea water- it was reported on CNN ! Thus exposing the rods. Sure am glad I don’t eat Sushi.

  5. Latino 4 life!!! says:

    Yeah!!! Belive what the government is telling you!!! These idiots didnt know how to handle Katrina!!!!!!

    1. Duh! says:

      What do you mean?????
      The people were told to leave, DAYS AHEAD OF TIME, and they didn’t. Everyone knew that a hurricane was coming.

      Now they say the government didn’t do enough. Sheesh!!

  6. John says:

    As Bill Oriley is always saying whenever the chance of somethng happening is slim or low “But there is that chance” just to scare people.

  7. perry says:

    This is very insulting.

    Instead of telling us continually that there is no danger and the risk is low, we need those with the data to give us the NUMBERS.

    1) What is the current radiation level over the west coast?
    2) What is it normally?
    3) What is it projected to be in the event of a total meltdown in Japan?

    That is what concerned people need to know.

  8. Gary McIntire says:

    This is just another Government scare tactic, to scare people into believing anything they say. As a power plant operator and the son of a nuclear operating engineer, I am not worried about any issues with any of the nuclear power plants in the USA or Japan, I am quite sure they are doing everything they can to bring the stricken plant to a safe condition and contain any radiation to a safe level.

  9. Carol M. says:

    Projections” show the radiation will reach California shore tomorrow,
    Friday. It is “expected” to be weakened and not harmful to us.
    Still, let’s stay off the beaches and out of the Pacific for a good little while, especially Noah and other kids.
    Coincidentallly, weather reporters say winds, and high surf is expected here. They have backed off a bit on Saturday rain–now say Sunday and Monday rain. Will this rain have radiation particles?
    Not only that, but a LOT of my questions haven’t been answered.
    Will the coastal drinking water be affected??
    Will the farms of northern Calif. that raise our food absorb radiation?
    Do we now swear off the great Kobe beef we love? Even the sliders Noah loves at Ruby’s??
    We were tentatively planning a Kauai trip late spring….did they get the tsunamis? Have they gotten radiation in harmful levels? I have not heard one WORD about the islands. Aren’t they part of the U.S. too??
    Our area (and internet) is sold out of Potassium Iodide tablets. Even though they CAN BE HARMFUL IF TAKEN BEFORE RADIATION EXPOSURE FROM ALLERGIES TO ORGAN FAILURE.
    Many Californians have bought these to have on hand if we get the “big one” soon.
    Does any body know the exposure date on these?
    We here are between two nuclear plants, San Onofre between us and San Diego, and Diablo further north at San Luis Obispo

  10. dripable says:

    This makes perfect sense to me…

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