A slight hysteria around radiation poisoning is growing in the west and one local health food store’s booming sales of radiation inhibitors indicate Trail residents are also worried.
The run on iodine sales started shortly after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami caused a major crisis with Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear reactors.
L’Bears Natural Foods store in Trail recently sold out of iodine supplements and is having difficulties keeping potassium iodide tablets in stock.
“You can’t say too much because people are worried but they are buying two or three bottles at a time and buying three of those potassium iodide,” said L’Bear employee Barb Molinaro.
The product known as Thyro Safe is used to protect the thyroid gland against radioactive iodine released during a nuclear emergency. It does so by flooding the thyroid with a stable, safe iodine, which blocks absorption of dangerous radioactive iodine.
Like the health store, Trail pharmacies have also been inundated by requests from residents.
“We’ve had tons of requests, but we don’t sell them,” said Ferraro Foods pharmacist Jenna Zavaduk. “The Ministry of Health doesn’t recommend taking them because it’s not necessary and there are some health risks that are involved, especially with people on medication.”
Potassium at higher doses can cause serious heart arrhythmias and too much iodine can have harmful effects for with those who have thyroid problems. (See related column on Page 19.)
According to the Ministry and Public Safety Canada, the radiation is not expected to pose any health risks to Canadians so Zavaduk is reminding people to remain calm.
“We’re trying to get people to not freak out about it,” she said.
Other problems with taking the supposed cure is that it only protects the thyroid, not any other part or the body, and is not a preventative, it only works when radiation poisoning is imminent.
“You only take it if you are right next to a nuclear explosion . . . it has to be in your system while the radiation is there.”
While L’Bears still has some Thyro Safe in stock, the company’s website says it is completely sold out, which raises another concern for Zavaduk.
“People are trying to buy tincture of iodine and you just can’t take that stuff because it’s not good, it’s pretty toxic. Some people try to do conversions with it but I try to talk them out of it.”
For more information on what Canada is doing about Japan’s nuclear crisis go to www.publicsafety.gc.ca/prg/em/jeic-faq-eng.aspx
L’Bears’ Barb Molinaro say sales of iodine supplements have been fast and furious but she also warns residents that there are risks involved.