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This is a continuation of: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/radioactive-reindeer/
The Chernobyl accident is an obvious example of how human failures when dealing with a modern technical system can have global consequences and also be a potential threat to what we like to think of as the unspoiled wilderness of the Arctic.” (Ahman, 1995) http://septentrio.uit.no/index.php/rangifer/article/viewFile/1455/1370
Merry Old Santa by Thomas Nast
Christmas Reindeer in Scotland
Christmas is over for many by now, and for everyone by Wednesday, among those who even celebrate it. Some people do not believe in Santa Claus or Father Christmas. Others do not have Santa and his Reindeer in their culture. Perhaps Father Christmas rides a horse, arrives on a boat or walks by foot? Maybe it’s the Befana who just brought your presents?
Italian Fireman dressed as the Befana
Italian fireman dressed as the Befana via Wikimedia. http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Befana_Gubbio.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Befana

If you do not believe in Santa, or have Santa and Reindeer then why should you be interested in Reindeer?

Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen of Norway, via Wikimedia

Well, there are probably many reasons, some unknown to us, some unknown to everyone about why Reindeer matter. Additionally there is the importance of reindeer to the indigenous Sami people. But, for our purposes the Reindeer provide an interesting, well-studied, model of the impacts of Chernobyl and Weapons testing on plants, animals and humans. By extension they provide a model of the risk of radionuclides in the environment, whether from nuclear wastes or nuclear accidents. They illustrate how long even the shorter-lived radionuclides persist in the environment. Much research has been done on the impacts on Reindeer, as was seen in the first part. Much research appears left to do.

Some may wonder about jumping from Reindeer to humans and back again, in relation to caesium 137, which mimics potassium. The importance of potassium for humans has been discussed but what about Reindeer? Is potassium important to them? Although we could find nothing specific to reindeer, cattle are more closely kin to them.

According to “Mineral and Vitamin Nutrition for Beef Cattle“:
The third most abundant mineral in the body is potassium. Potassium is in intracellular fluid and is involved in acid-base balance, osmotic pressure regulation, water balance, muscle contractions, nerve impulse transmission, oxygen and carbon dioxide transport in the blood, and enzyme reactions. Potassium prevents tetany, convulsions, and unsteady gait. Potassium deficiency is indicated by reduced feed intake, depraved appetite, lowered weight gains, rough hair coat, and muscle weakness. Body stores of potassium are low, so potassium deficiency can begin quickly.” http://msucares.com/pubs/publications/p2484.pdf So, it is very clear that if Caesium 137 were to replace potassium for either cattle or reindeer the repercussions can be very serious. The same is true for humans and many other, perhaps all, animals.

We are further told that:
Potassium is mainly excreted in the urine of cattle, and potassium secretion in milk is relatively high.http://msucares.com/pubs/publications/p2484.pdf So, we should not be surprised that there are concerns about Caesium contamination of milk.

Additionally we learn, regarding potassium in cattle:
Forages are good sources of this mineral, often ranging from 1 to 4 percent potassium. Potassium content can be very high in lush pasture, potentially contributing to grass tetany onset.http://msucares.com/pubs/publications/p2484.pdf According to wikipedia, “High potassium intake relative to calcium and magnesium intake may induce hypomagnesemia.” and “Grass tetany or hypomagnesemic tetany, also known as grass staggers and winter tetany, is a metabolic disease involving magnesium deficiency, which can occur in such ruminant livestock as beef cattle, dairy cattle and sheep, usually after grazing on lush pastures of rapidly growing grass, especially in early spring.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grass_tetany Apparently grass tetany has been documented for at least 150 years: http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010106voisin/010106frames.html
Vatche tetaneye
Cow tetany. Photo by L. Mahin via Wikimedia.

We don’t see the grass in the photo either! It looks more like a starving cow. But, wikipedia says that it is a case of tetany and we use it to illustrate how serious an issue mineral balance can be. A starving dehydrated cow would surely have electrolyte deficiencies, meaning this is probably tetany from a deficiency of minerals rather than from excess. Too little potassium can cause tetany, as we read further up. But too much, in relation to magnesium and calcium, can cause it too, at least in cattle. (For humans, we know that adequate magnesium is required for potassium to work. And potassium supplements can only be taken under medical supervision).

Hence, we see one angle of the potential seriousness of caesium replacing potassium in the body. This is one reason why caesium contamination can have such serious repercussions. It can disrupt this delicate balance.

As for humans: Our research, of human needs for potassium versus potassium content of food, suggests that the challenge is eating well enough to get adequate potassium. It is also important to have adequate magnesium for the potassium to do its work. As we discussed in part one, the importance of balance is why you cannot take potassium supplements except under medical supervision. As you see with the cattle, you need enough but not too much. Too much or too little can be dangerous. Hence, it is harder to protect against caesium contamination. This is why polluting the environment with caesium is a heinous crime against humanity. You must depend on the potassium in your food to live, and to help protect you from caesium uptake. (We have read that you can, however, add potassium to your plants so that they take up more potassium and less caesium). This is in contrast to iodide. By taking a multivitamin and/or a tiny amount of iodized salt you protect against goiter, and at the same time you can protect yourself, in advance, from radioactive iodide. However, too much iodine is also dangerous! So, study recommended iodine requirements from a reliable, conservative source, and compare to your vitamin bottle, and to the amount of iodine in your salt (you should be able to calculate from information on the box), in order to determine need and amounts. But, not much iodized salt is needed. Only a tiny amount. In some areas iodine is prevalent in soil and water, so, if food and water are from there supplements are not needed. For other areas, the so-called “goiter-belts”, supplements may be needed. If your food and water are not local, you must look at the state of the soil from whence your food comes. Usually a Multi-vitamin has most, if not all, of the daily requirements for iodine. Children and pregnant and lactating women have different needs from other adults. The following are two US and UK gov fact sheets on iodine. The UK site underlines the risks of too much, possibly because consumption of ocean fish is assumed. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/ http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Iodine.aspx Consult your medical doctor if in doubt or if you are confused in any way. If pregnant or lactating or you have any medical condition consult your doctor. This blog post is not meant to be or to replace medical advice! It is to encourage you to think and do your own research. Please recall that there is no such thing as more is better for any supplements. Any above the required daily amounts could be dangerous, depending on the vitamin or mineral. Even those vitamins, which most say can be safely taken in above recommended amounts make your kidneys work harder. All can be dangerous in large amounts. What’s considered safe one day may be considered dangerous the next. Vitamins and minerals must be taken with plenty of water. You need to save and protect your kidneys, so they can protect you against radionuclides and other toxins. We could tell you which vitamins and minerals are dangerous or safe, but that is not the purpose of this blog. So, just be sure and do your research, be prudent, and eat as well as you possibly can.

Back to tetany:
In general, the most common cause of tetany is low calcium levels, however. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetany We now know that radioactive strontium mimics calcium, but it is not calcium. As we examine the importance of calcium it gives pause. Although written about cattle, most is true for humans, as well, except we eat a wider variety of foods.

What role does calcium play for cattle and presumably for Reindeer? According to “Mineral and Vitamin Nutrition for Beef Cattle“:
Calcium (Ca) Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is involved in many vital body functions, including bone formation and maintenance, development and maintenance of teeth, blood clotting, membrane permeability, muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, heart regulation, milk secretion, hormone secretion, and enzyme activation and function. Most calcium supplies in the body are found in the bones and teeth. Bones can supply short-term dietary deficiencies of calcium. However, long-term dietary calcium deficiencies can cause severe production problems. Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption. Diets high in fat can reduce calcium absorption. Calcium deficiency interferes with normal bone growth in young cattle and can cause rickets (weak, soft bones that are easily fractured) and retarded growth and development. In adult cattle, calcium deficiency can cause osteomalacia, a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones. Milk fever, a condition usually associated with dairy cattle, can also occur in beef cattle as a result of calcium deficiency and leads to cows that go down soon after calving…Forages are generally higher in calcium concentrations than concentrate (grain-based) feedstuffs, with legumes (such as clovers and alfalfa) typically providing higher calcium levels than grasses. Calcium content in forages varies with species, plant part, maturity, quantity of calcium available in the soil for plant uptake, and climate.
Grass tetany is associated with low levels of magnesium or calcium in cattle grazing annual ryegrass, small grains (such as oats, rye, wheat), and cool-season perennial grasses (such as tall fescue) in late winter and early spring…Grass tetany most commonly affects lactating cattle, particularly the highest-milking animals in the herd. Magnesium and calcium requirements of lactating cattle are far greater than those of nonlactating cattle. This predisposes cattle to grass tetany during lactation. Grass tetany results when magnesium and calcium levels in forages are too low to meet the requirements of cattle and cattle do not get enough magnesium and calcium supplementation. Clinical signs of grass tetany include nervousness, muscle twitching around the face and ears, staggering, and reduced feed intake. An affected animal may go down on its side, experience muscle spasms and convulsions, and die if not treated.
Although horns are not mentioned, it is clear that calcium is important for horn and antler formation and that they would take up strontium.
[Disclaimer Note: If you have cattle, please read the entire msucares publication and other publications and consult your veterinarian. For your own nutritional needs, please do your own research and consult your doctor. This is not meant as medical advice. However, we hope you start to see the importance of a balanced, nutritional diet, and the potential impact on function, and the potentially life-threatening consequences of caesium replacing potassium and strontium replacing calcium. Then, of course, there is the problem of being irradiated from within and risks of genetic damage and cancer.]

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Because we keep seeing mention of Potassium Iodide pills on Internet, we return to the topic of radioactive iodine. This is both in the interest of public service and for understanding concepts relative to the post. It will lead neatly back to where we wanted to be but will mean that a Radioactive Reindeer post III will probably be required. We must repeat that it can be as dangerous to have too much potassium and iodide, as too little, at the risk of irritating some readers who understand the point already. It is important to do your own research and consult with your doctor and pharmacist before taking any medication. This is even more important if you are pregnant or otherwise responsible for a child’s life. Since several US government agencies appear to think that one dose of Potassium Iodide is good for certain people, at the time of a nuclear emergency, we include much of that information below. If you go to the links they explain the dosages. They also explain the risks. We are now convinced that the reason that the previous Japanese government did not initially give out iodide pills was because the traditional Japanese diet is very high in iodine. However, not all Japanese have continued to eat the traditional diet. As well, that same traditional diet of seaweed and fish would have quickly risked contamination after Fukushima. And, there could have been food contamination from the reactors even pre-Fukushima.

Do Reindeer even have thyroids or need iodine like people do? The answer is yes. And, so, radioactive iodine (I129 and I131) will have impacted (I131) and continues to impact (I129) Reindeer and everyone else. Non-reindeer local deer are actually used to monitor radioactive iodine levels near the Oak Ridge facility in the US state of Tennessee.

We generally hear about Iodine 131 with a half -life of 8 days. But, not much about Iodine 129 with a half life of 15.7 million years!
Iodine-131 (131I), also called radioiodine, is an important radioisotope of iodine. It has a radioactive decay half-life of about eight days. It is associated with nuclear energy, medical diagnostic and treatment procedures, and natural gas production. It also plays a major role as a radioactive isotope present in nuclear fission products, and was a significant contributor to the health hazards from open-air atomic bomb testing in the 1950s, and from the Chernobyl disaster, as well as being a large fraction of the contamination hazard in the first weeks in the Fukushima nuclear crisis. This is because I-131 is a major uranium, plutonium fission product, comprising nearly 3% of the total products of fission (by weight)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine-131
BUT….oh, no!
Iodine-129 (129I) is long-lived radioisotope of iodine. 129I is primarily formed from the fission of uranium and plutonium in nuclear reactors. Significant amounts were released into the atmosphere as a result of nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s. It is also naturally produced in small quantities…” 129I decays with a half-life of 15.7 million years, with low-energy beta and gamma emissions, to xenon-129 (129Xe).http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine-129 See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotopes_of_iodine

This explains why the iodine level where your cow grazes helps to determine the iodine in your milk, and why after a nuclear accident milk can be a danger if cows and other animals are not brought inside and fed other food:
Absorbed iodide is largely taken up by the thyroid gland for thyroid hormone synthesis or is excreted in the urine. In lactating cows, approximately 8 percent of dietary iodine is secreted in milk(Miller et al., 1988).” http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=9791&page=64
From National Research Council. Distribution and Administration of Potassium Iodide in the Event of a Nuclear Incident. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2004.
(We say helps to determine iodine levels because where dairy equipment is cleaned with iodine based cleaning solutions this is said to impact the non-radioactive iodine levels in milk).

The (US) National Research Council explains radionuclides and the thyroid:
During the plume phase of a reactor-accident release, the thyroid might be exposed externally to gamma radiation from radionuclides in the plume or it might be exposed internally if radioiodine is present and inhaled. The thyroid can also be exposed internally through the intake of radioiodine by the consumption of contaminated milk, water or foods, such as leafy vegetables. Consideration of the ingestion of milk is particularly of concern because radioiodine deposited on pasture grass is reconcentrated in the milk of grazing animals (particularly cows, goats, sheep and reindeer). It takes a day or two for the radioiodine to appear in milk. To reduce exposure via the ingestion pathway, including thyroid exposure, officials would recommend that dairy animals be fed uncontaminated stored feed or recommend the interdiction of local milk supplies and contaminated foods (USNRC, 2002).” http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10868&page=41
National Research Council. “Distribution and Administration of Potassium Iodide in the Event of a Nuclear Incident. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2004.

The below Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) document appears to be addressing historic emissions and current emissions not associated with an accident. The X-10 mentioned is the graphite reactor built in 1943 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-10_Graphite_Reactor
From “Public Health Assessment, Iodine-131 Releases“. Oak Ridge Reservation (USDOE) Oak Ridge, Anderson County, Tennessee, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, March 2008:
Historical iodine concentrations in deer thyroids
Deer and other grazing animals can ingest iodine compounds deposited on grasses or on other food sources. Because iodine is concentrated in the thyroid, this organ is monitored to estimate the amount of contamination in the environment. Early studies by a number of laboratories (Ballad et al. 1976, 1978; Van Middlesworth 1993; Hou et al. 2003; Hanson et al. 1963) have shown the usefulness of gamma spectral analyses in determining the iodine content in thyroids, especially when coupled with or supplemented by mass spectroscopy. Numerous samples collected around several DOE sites, including X-10 and other locations showed no I-129 in deer thyroids from West Tennessee. That said, however, deer thyroids from the ORNL site showed amounts of I-129 in excess of 27 picocuries per gram (pCi/g) (1 becquerel per gram) of thyroid tissue (Van Middlesworth 1993).

Controlled hunting is the means by which the deer population around ORNL is managed. All harvested deer are evaluated by laboratory personnel before removal from the ORNL property (Alvarez et al., in preparation). The evaluation includes radiological scans and information about the area where the deer were harvested. Those deer are retained (or those samples are retained) for further analyses in which radiological scans are above the ORR screening value of 5 pCi/g of deer tissue for cesium-137 (ORNL 1995). From 1985 through 2003, ORNL retained 170 of the more than 8,500 deer harvested (ORNL 2004).

The Task 1 report indicated that several areas of ORNL received amounts of iodine more than two to three times fallout levels (TDOH 1999). This is an important factor because deer, other than young males, remain in one place, rarely roaming outside of a 0.4-square-mile area (Nelson et al. 1999). Using deer thyroid data from 1979 to 1989, the Alvarez team evaluated the I-129 deer data for the thyroids in relation to the collection location (Alvarez et al., in preparation). Only those deer collected within a small area of the reservation had elevated I-129 levels. When plotted against the RaLa areas, only those deer harvested near the White Oak watershed showed elevated thyroid levels of I-129. In other locations where Task 1 authors estimated iodine deposition to be much higher than the amount associated with fallout, the I-129 concentrations in deer thyroids reflected background locations. The data indicate that deer taken near White Oak Lake had above-background I-129 in their thyroids; the same was not true of deer harvested off the reservation. The I-129 in the thyroids of other deer taken on X-10 had I-129 concentrations typical of background levels.” (p. 33)

Some evidence also suggests that the amount of stable, nonradioactive iodine found in today’s diets may offer sufficient protection against absorbing too much radioactive iodine from the environment. In other words, if a sufficient level of stable iodine is in the bloodstream, the thyroid will absorb it, and any additional uptake of radioactive iodine will be competitively inhibited.” (p.3)
Iodine is a naturally occurring element essential in the production of thyroid hormones. Yet excessive levels of either stable or radioactive iodine can damage the thyroid. Iodine has therefore both beneficial and harmful effects on human health. ” (p. 37)

No significant air releases of radioactive iodines are occurring from ORNL. Therefore, ATSDR does not expect any current or future exposures to ATSDR uses the no public radioactive iodines from this site. Any I-131 released from health hazard category where X-10 from the 1940s through 2005 has, because of its short there is no potential for human exposure to harmful levels of half-life, decayed completely. On the other hand I-129 from the X-10 releases may still exist in the environment because of its long half-life. That said, ATSDR scientists believe that the levels are not of public health concern because iodines, including I-129 and I-131, are removed from the body in about 12 days and from the thyroid in 80 days. Moreover, the amount of nonradioactive iodine common in contemporary diets offers sufficient protection against uptake of radioactive iodines, including radioactive iodines occurring at environmental levels.” (p. 75)

Community concerns from the Oak Ridge Reservation community health concerns database:
67 A Subcommittee member commented, going back to the children of Chernobyl, he had heard that general areas had been iodine deficient, what role would uptake of iodine have played, especially with in utero exposure?

The expert replied that iodine deficiency would have an effect. The fetal thyroid is very active and it would take up whatever iodine—including radioactive iodine—it could get from the mother. The fractional uptake is higher with iodine deficiency, and iodine deficiency would contribute to taking up more of this radioactive iodine that can cause thyroid cancer.

68 A Subcommittee member wanted to know what would have been the iodine intake forty to fifty years ago.
Iodine deficiency is more common in children of mountainous regions or the Midwest. In fact, 25%–30% of the children in the Midwest have goiter. Children around the ocean were less affected because they got plenty of iodine. Due to concerns about iodine deficiency in children, a world-wide program was developed to eliminate iodine deficiency by providing iodized salt.

[Ed. note: We think they mean that 40 to 50 years ago this number of children HAD goiter.]

69 Do children pick up more radioactive iodine because of their iodine deficiency?
Yes. Children pick up more radioactive iodine due to their iodine deficiency

70 A Subcommittee member asked if kids were deficient in iodine in Chernobyl and how their diets compare with those of U.S. children.
Children in Chernobyl probably have diets low in iodine, with intakes of 50 micrograms per day. As a result of the iodine deficiencies, there is a 20% incidence of adolescent thyroid disease in Chernobyl. On the other hand, diets of United States children contain 150–200 micrograms of iodine per day; 150 is considered deficient, 50–100 is borderline. Iodine is also ingested from milk, as well as from fortified bread. Although iodine intake overall has fallen 50% in the last 20 years, the U.S. intake is still considered good.
“(p. 63) http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/pha/oakridgeI131_022508/I%20131%20Final_02_25_08_508.pdf (bold added for emphasis)

From “REVISED DRAFT NUREG-1633 AND PUBLIC INFORMATION BROCHURE ON POTASSIUM IODIDE (KI) FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC” (2002): Assessment of the Use of Potassium Iodide (KI) as a Supplemental Public Protective Action during Severe Reactor Accidents“, US NRC:

Reactor Accident Exposure Pathways

In a reactor accident, there are three principal ways for radioactive materials to deliver doses to people (1) external exposure to the passing plume and direct radiation from sources deposited on surfaces such as the ground, (2) internal exposure from inhalation of airborne radioactive material, and (3) internal exposure from the ingestion of radioactively contaminated food or water. Absorption of radioactive material through the skin or the injection through wounds, particularly, for tritium, are also possible, but of much less concern. For emergency preparedness purposes, the immediate concern is the inhalation pathway; this takes place in what is commonly called the “plume phase” immediately after the accident. The plume phase is the release of radioactive materials to the environment during the reactor accident. The radioactive materials escape into the environment and travel in an atmospheric plume or cloud. During the plume phase of a reactor accident release, the thyroid may be exposed in one of two ways (1) externally from the passing plume gamma radiation associated with gamma-emitting isotopes or (2) externally and internally, if inhalation is also a pathway (if radioiodines are present and inhaled). It is in the plume phase and in the plume EPZ that the potential for large doses to the whole body and to the thyroid exist in postulated worst-case severe accidents in the U.S.

The thyroid can also be exposed internally from the intake of radioiodines by the consumption of contaminated milk or leafy vegetables, commonly known as the ingestion pathway. The milk pathway is particularly important because radioiodines deposited on pasture grass are effectively transferred to the milk of grazing animals (particularly, cows, goats, and reindeer). It takes a day or two before the radioiodines first appear in milk. To reduce any internal exposure from the ingestion pathway, including thyroid exposure, officials should recommend that dairy animals be given stored feed and/or recommend the interdiction of local milk supplies and leafy vegetables within 80 km (50 miles) (FDA 1982). This distance can be altered when actual plume pathways are established.“(pp. 7-8)
The primary significance of dietary iodide levels is that for a common exposure to radioiodide (inhalation or ingestion), individuals with a lower dietary intake of stable iodide will have a higher thyroid uptake of radioiodide, resulting in a proportionately higher thyroid exposure. Daily intake levels of stable iodide may also influence adverse reactions to stable iodide when administered in doses that greatly exceed dietary levels. However, daily dietary intake of iodine is not a factor in the consideration of the use of iodine prophylaxis.” (p.9) [Ed. note: Ok, you heard them. They say that if you have higher levels of iodide already that you are less likely to absorb the radioiodide and more likely to have side effects. BUT, they still think you should take the pill! Does this make sense? Is this to protect from litigation? For pharmaceutical companies to make money? We don’t know. We put it here to help you figure out for yourself, in conjunction with the info below, your own research and consultation with your doctor and pharmacist.]

In ‘normal’ populations the incidence of clinically diagnosed thyroid cancers ranges from less than 0.5 per 100,000 persons (USA and Central Europe) to 8 per 100,000 in Chinese people. Thyroid cancers are often hidden or “occulted” and remain so during the lifetime of the patient. Often they are not discovered until the patient’s death from other causes. The “occulted” thyroid cancers occur in the normal populations with a thousand times higher incidence, which ranges from 5,600 per 100,000 in Columbia to 35,000 per 100,000 in Finland. In the younger age group (0-15 years), the incidence of occult cancers in Finland is lower, 2,400 per 100,000. (Fransilla & Harach, Harach et al.)” p. 11 http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= (Bold added) Note the high rates of “occult” thyroid cancers in Finland for those who were alive during Chernobyl and during the Nuclear Weapons tests. Of course, this could also have to do with the time it takes to die of other things or for the cancer to present itself. That is, someone under 15 is less likely to die and the definition of an occult cancer seems to be that found after death.

We found the following important study on Iodine 129. This is based on information from June 2011. We fear that this would still be leaking from Fukushima! Are they filtering the water for this?

Iodine-129 in Seawater Offshore Fukushima: Distribution, Inorganic Speciation, Sources, and Budget” Authors: Hou, Xiaolin, Povinec, Pavel P., Zhang, Luyuan, Shi, Keliang, Biddulph, Dana, Chang, Ching-Chih, Fan, Yukun, Golser, Robin, Hou, Yingkun, Ješkovský, Miroslav, Jull, A. J. Tim, Liu, Qi, Luo, Maoyi, Steier, Peter, and Zhou, Weijian Environmental Science & Technology (Impact Factor: 4.8). 03/2013
The Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011 has released a large amount of radioactive pollutants to the environment. Of the pollutants, iodine-129 is a long-lived radionuclide and will remain in the environment for millions of years. This work first report levels and inorganic speciation of 129I in seawater depth profiles collected offshore Fukushima in June 2011. Significantly elevated 129I concentrations in surface water were observed with the highest 129I/127I atomic ratio of 2.2 × 10−9 in the surface seawater 40 km offshore Fukushima. Iodide was found as the dominant species of 129I, while stable 127I was mainly in iodate form, reflecting the fact that the major source of 129I is the direct liquid discharges from the Fukushima NPP. The amount of 129I directly discharged from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant to the sea was estimated to be 2.35 GBq, and about 1.09 GBq of 129I released to the atmosphere from the accident was deposited in the sea offshore Fukushima. A total release of 8.06 GBq (or 1.2 kg) of 129I from the Fukushima accident was estimated. These Fukushima-derived 129I data provide necessary information for the investigation of water circulation and geochemical cycle of iodine in the northwestern Pacific Ocean in the future.
http://www.geo.arizona.edu/node/384?destination=node/384 (bold added for emphasis)

Returning to the NRC draft document on Potassium iodide, they discuss the measures undertaken in Poland (they also discuss the lack of measures at Chernobyl) and the problems reported from the potassium iodide (KI) pills, which they say involved comparatively few people. Measures which may have been more important, however, were not allowing the cows to eat fresh food and giving powdered milk, which was free of contamination, to children. Also, pregnant women and children were to avoid fresh vegetables for a short time. This only addressed the short-lived I 131 however.
6 Poland and the Chernobyl Accident

The use of KI in Poland after the Chernobyl accident provides useful information regarding its safety and tolerability in the general population.

Polish authorities detected increased levels of airborne radioactive contamination on the night of April 27, 1986. Although there was no official notification of the accident by the USSR, it was assumed, on the basis of Tass News Agency reports, that the increases were attributable to the accident at Chernobyl. On April 28 Poland formed a governmental commission to recommend protective actions. Among these actions, the commission recommended intervention levels for taking protective actions on the morning of April 29 (Wolff 1995).

On April 29, Poland’s Minister of Health gave orders to prepare and distribute KI to the 11 provinces most affected. KI was to be made available through hospitals, public health centers, schools, and kindergartens. The country used its mass media to announce the protective action and to appeal for volunteers to assist in the nationwide distribution (Wolff 1995).

The commission then instituted the following additional protective measures (Wolff 1995): Feeding of cows on pastures or with fresh fodder was banned countrywide until May 15, 1986.
Fresh milk with radioactivity above 1,000 Bq/L was banned for consumption by children and pregnant or lactating women.
All children under the age of 4 were given powdered milk through numerous distribution centers.
Children and pregnant or lactating women were advised to eat a minimum of fresh leafy vegetables (until May 16, 1986)

The distribution of KI was initiated on April 29 and was completed by May 2. This included the distribution of KI to more than 90 percent of the children under the age of 16 and about a quarter of the adults. A total of 10.5 million doses of KI were given to children and 7 million doses were given to adults. Multiple doses, although not recommended, were taken in a number of cases. In addition, about 6 percent of the prophylaxis resulted from self-administered tincture of iodine before the KI program was initiated (Wolff 1995). Because of diminishing air contamination, the KI prophylaxis was not repeated. In the second phase of the response, powdered milk was made available to all children less than 4 years of age. (p. 17)

The study found the side effects from a single dose of KI included headache, stomachache, diarrhea, vomiting, shortness of breath, skin rashes, (about 1% prevalence) and assorted other reactions. Of the 18 million doses administered, only 36,000 medically significant adverse reactions to KI were reported. Intrathyroidal side effects in newborns were examined in newborns administered KI within the first 20 days of life. Of the studied infants, 0.37% exhibited acute thyroid related reactions (increases in TSH and decreases in FT4 (free thyroxine)) (WHO 1999).”
REVISED DRAFT NUREG-1633 AND PUBLIC INFORMATION BROCHURE ON POTASSIUM IODIDE (KI) FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC” US NRC (bold added for emphasis) http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

US Centers of Disease Control (CDC) information on Potassium iodide: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/ki.asp

What is Potassium Iodide (KI)?
KI (potassium iodide) is a salt of stable (not radioactive) iodine that can help block radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland, thus protecting this gland from radiation injury.

The thyroid gland is the part of the body that is most sensitive to radioactive iodine.

People should take KI (potassium iodide) only on the advice of public health or emergency management officials. There are health risks associated with taking KI.

KI (potassium iodide) does not keep radioactive iodine from entering the body and cannot reverse the health effects caused by radioactive iodine once the thyroid is damaged.

KI (potassium iodide) only protects the thyroid, not other parts of the body, from radioactive iodine.
KI (potassium iodide) cannot protect the body from radioactive elements other than radioactive iodine—if radioactive iodine is not present, taking KI is not protective and could cause harm.

Table salt and foods rich in iodine do not contain enough iodine to block radioactive iodine from getting into your thyroid gland. Do not use table salt or food as a substitute for KI.

Do not use dietary supplements that contain iodine in the place of KI (potassium iodide). They can be harmful and non-efficacious. Only use products that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)”. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/ki.asp
[Ed. comment – We think that what the CDC means is that you should not eat a lot of iodized salt or any other product once the event happens (or at any other time!). That could be very dangerous indeed. We are certain that they would expect you to have an adequate iodine intake on a regular basis to prevent goiter. A multivitamin with iodine and a small bit of iodized salt could be part of this, depending on your age, weight, diet, the location of your food and water source (goiter belt or not), and any health considerations. Do not assume that a product is approved simply because it is available. The US FDA, for instance, is very short staffed. Always double check. Approved products are listed at the FDA web site further below].

The CDC continues:
How does KI (potassium iodide) work?
The thyroid gland cannot tell the difference between stable and radioactive iodine. It will absorb both.

KI (potassium iodide) blocks radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid. When a person takes KI, the stable iodine in the medicine gets absorbed by the thyroid. Because KI contains so much stable iodine, the thyroid gland becomes ‘full’ and cannot absorb any more iodine—either stable or radioactive—for the next 24 hours.

KI (potassium iodide) may not give a person 100% protection against radioactive iodine. Protection will increase depending on three factors.

Time after contamination: The sooner a person takes KI, the more time the thyroid will have to “fill up” with stable iodine.
Absorption: The amount of stable iodine that gets to the thyroid depends on how fast KI is absorbed into the blood.
Dose of radioactive iodine: Minimizing the total amount of radioactive iodine a person is exposed to will lower the amount of harmful radioactive iodine the thyroid can absorb
….. [NB: CDC web site (link) gives info on dosages; the FDA gives even more details]
What are the side effects of KI (potassium iodide)?
Side effects of KI (potassium iodide) may include stomach or gastro-intestinal upset, allergic reactions, rashes, and inflammation of the salivary glands.

When taken as recommended, KI (potassium iodide) can cause rare adverse health effects related to the thyroid gland.

These rare adverse effects are more likely if a person:
Takes a higher than recommended dose of KI
Takes the drug for several days
Has a pre-existing thyroid disease.
Newborn infants (less than 1 month old) who receive more than one dose of KI (potassium iodide) are at risk for developing a condition known as hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone levels that are too low). If not treated, hypothyroidism can cause brain damage.

Infants who receive more than a single dose of KI should have their thyroid hormone levels checked and monitored by a doctor.
Avoid repeat dosing of KI to newborns.
People should only take KI (potassium iodide) on the advice of public health or emergency management officials. There are health risks associated with taking KI
“. We added most bold however within the document the CDC put in bold that:
People should take KI (potassium iodide) only on the advice of public health or emergency management officials. There are health risks associated with taking KI.
Do not use table salt or food as a substitute for KI.
Taking a stronger dose of KI (potassium iodide), or taking KI more often than recommended, does not offer more protection and can cause severe illness or death.
Avoid repeat dosing of KI to newborns.
There are health risks associated with taking KI
“. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/ki.asp

From the US Food and Drug Administration web site: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/BioterrorismandDrugPreparedness/ucm072265.htm
Frequently Asked Questions on Potassium Iodide (KI)
1. What does potassium iodide (KI) do?
The effectiveness of KI as a specific blocker of thyroid radioiodine uptake is well established. When administered in the recommended dose, KI is effective in reducing the risk of thyroid cancer in individuals or populations at risk for inhalation or ingestion of radioiodines. KI floods the thyroid with non-radioactive iodine and prevents the uptake of the radioactive molecules, which are subsequently excreted in the urine.

2. Can potassium iodide (KI) be used to protect against radiation from bombs other than radioactive iodine?
Potassium iodide ( KI) works only to prevent the thyroid from uptaking radioactive iodine. It is not a general radioprotective agent

3. Who really needs to take potassium iodide (KI) after a nuclear radiation release?
The FDA guidance prioritizes groups based on age, which primarily determines risk for radioiodine-induced thyroid cancer. Those at highest risk are infants and children, as well as pregnant and nursing females, and the recommendation is to treat them at the lowest threshold (with respect to predicted radioactive dose to the thyroid). Anyone over age 18 and up to age 40 should be treated at a slightly higher threshold. Finally, anyone over 40 should be treated with KI only if the predicted exposure is high enough to destroy the thyroid and induce lifelong hypothyroidism (thyroid deficiency).

4. What potassium iodide (KI) products are currently available?
As of January 2005, Iosat, ThyroSafe, and ThyroShield are FDA approved KI products. You can find out more about these products at Drugs@FDA. Please be aware that only the KI products approved by FDA may be legally marketed in the United States.

5.” [Ed. note: info on product availability at web site ]

6. What dosages of potassium iodide (KI) should be taken for specific exposure levels?
[see web site]

7. How long should potassium iodide (KI) be taken?
Since KI protects for approximately 24 hours, it should be dosed daily until the risk no longer exists. Priority with regard to evacuation and sheltering should be given to pregnant females and neonates because of the potential for KI to suppress thyroid function in the fetus and neonate. Unless other protective measures are not available, we do not recommend repeat dosing in pregnant females and neonates.

8. Who should not take potassium iodide (KI) or have restricted use?
Persons with known iodine sensitivity should avoid KI, as should individuals with dermatitis herpetiformis and hypocomplementemic vasculitis, extremely rare conditions associated with an increased risk of iodine hypersensitivity. A seafood or shellfish allergy does not necessarily mean that you are allergic or hypersensitive to iodine. People with nodular thyroid with heart disease should not take KI. Individuals with multinodular goiter, Graves’ disease, and autoimmune thyroiditis should be treated with caution — especially if dosing extends beyond a few days. If you are not sure if you should take KI, consult your healthcare professional.

9. What are the side effects?
Side effects are unlikely when KI is used at the recommended dose and for a short time. The following are possible side effects:
Skin rashes
Swelling of the salivary glands
“Iodism” (metallic taste, burning mouth and throat, sore teeth and gums, symptoms of a head cold, and sometimes upset stomach and diarrhea)
An allergic reaction can have more serious symptoms. These include fever and joint pains; swelling of parts of the body (face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, or feet); trouble breathing, speaking, or swallowing; wheezing or shortness of breath. Severe shortness of breath requires immediate medical attention.

10. Should I check with my doctor first?
Potassium iodide (KI) is available over-the-counter (OTC). However, if you have any health concerns or questions, you should check with your doctor.

The above is the FDA’s advice. We recommend doing research about your dietary needs and intake (and that of your children) and discussing with your doctor and pharmacist before considering taking this or any other medication. Have your doctor check your thyroid function while you are there, if it has not been done recently. It is best, of course, to do all of this ahead of an emergency. If you wait until an emergency it may be difficult to check with a doctor. See number 12.

11. As a doctor, should I be recommending potassium iodide (KI) for my patients who request it?” [NB: References to an FDA document are at the web site] “The FDA guidance discusses the rationale and methods of safe and effective use of KI in radiation emergencies. It specifically addresses threshold predicted thyroid radioiodine exposure for intervention and dosing by age group. The recommendations for intervention are based on categories of risk for thyroid cancer, with the young prioritized because of increased sensitivity to the carcinogenic effects of radioiodine.
12. Should I go out and buy potassium iodide (KI) to keep on hand?
KI works best if used within 3-4 hours of exposure. Although FDA has not made specific recommendations for individual purchase or use of KI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has contracted to purchase KI for states with nuclear reactors and states that have population within the 10-mile emergency planning zone, e.g., Delaware or West Virginia.
13. How do I know that potassium iodide (KI) will be available in case of an emergency?
FDA will continue to work with interested pharmaceutical manufacturers to assure that high quality, safe, and effective KI products are available for purchase by consumers, by state and local authorities, and by federal government agencies electing to do so.

What happens if your cow, reindeer or other ruminant gets too much nonradioactive iodine? Even for them it could be dangerous. Of course, radioactive iodine is also dangerous for them.
Iodine toxicity in ruminants
University of Veterinary Medicine, Košice, Slovak Republic
Vet. Med. – Czech, 47, 2002 (12): 343–350
ABSTRACT: e inadequate intake of iodine is still a topical problem, because it contributes to a reduction in performance through the disturbed health of adult animals and their offspring. e necessity of iodine is frequently described in association with hypothyroidal state. In our work we want to assign the hidden risk of prolonged iodine feeding in ruminants. We discuss the possible sources of iodine intoxication, the clinical signs of the intoxication, its effects on production, reproduction, and thyroid functions; animal susceptibility to intoxication; laboratory and necropsy findings; diagnostic, and therapeutic possibilities.” http://vri.cz/docs/vetmed/47-12-343.pdf

THIS POST CONTINUES HERE: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/radiation-and-reindeer-plus-sheep-part-iii-of-a-series/