Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (April 9, 2002) – The stockpile of potassium iodide (KI) tablets that the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) requested from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in January will soon be distributed to residents who live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant.

KI is an over-the-counter medication used to protect the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine, which may be released in the event of a radiation emergency.

“The KI is a supplement to the state’s long standing emergency plans in the event of a nuclear incident,” MDE Secretary Jane Nishida said. “While evacuation will still be the primary method of protecting our citizens, this medication will afford one additional measure of protection.”

KI will not protect against radiation exposure, but it can help to protect the thyroid gland. In the proper dosage, and taken at the appropriate time, potassium iodide will effectively saturate the thyroid gland so that radioactive iodines can not be accumulated there. Thus the gland is protected from acute or delayed effects from exposure to high doses of radioactive iodine.

In the event of an actual emergency, state and local officials will make announcements via the Emergency Alerting System directing citizens to evacuation routes and emergency shelters and also provide instructions on when to take the potassium iodide pills.

MDE has been working closely with county emergency planners and health officials in each of the counties with populations within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant – specifically, portions of Calvert, St. Mary’s and Dorchester Counties for Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power plant and portions of Harford and Cecil Counties for the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania.

While each county is developing its own distribution logistics, the general strategy is the same in all cases.

KI will be pre-distributed to schools located within 10 miles of each plant. One dose per student and faculty member will be maintained at the schools for distribution in an emergency when schools are in session.

Members of the general public who live within 10 miles of the plants will be able to obtain KI to maintain at their home or place of business. This pre-distribution will occur through a series of availability sessions planned by county officials. After initial distribution, new residents or others who did not already obtain KI will be able to do so by contacting their respective county health department.

Any remaining doses of KI will be made available to citizens at existing emergency reception facilities as a supplement to evacuation in the event of any emergency.
Specific information about KI distribution schedules and locations may be obtained by contacting county health departments:

  • Calvert County Health Department: (410) 535-5400

  • St. Mary’s County Health Department: (301) 475-4330

  • Dorchester County Health Department: (410) 228-3223

  • Harford County Health Department: (410) 638-8400

  • Cecil County Health Department: (410) 996-5145

Potassium Iodide: Answers to Your Questions (.pdf)