USPS Workers Get Potassium Iodide Pills
Tue Dec 3, 2002
SIOBHAN McDONOUGH, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. postal workers are being given potassium iodide
pills to protect against thyroid cancer in the event of a radiological
"Employees are out there in all of these communities nationwide
and we wanted to err on the side of caution," Postal Service
spokeswoman Sue Brennan said.
The USPS said Monday it was buying nearly 1.6 million pills from Tampa-based
Anbex, Inc. for distribution to workers who want to have the tablets
if a radiological emergency occurs.
Potassium iodide is the only medication for internal radiation exposure.
It has just one use — to prevent thyroid cancer by shielding the thyroid
from radioactive iodine, and it would help only if a dirty bomb used
radioactive iodine instead of other radioactive substances, and then
only for people close to the explosion.
The Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites)-approved tablets
are being offered to all 750,000 postal workers nationwide. Any employee
who wants the pills in case of emergency will get two tablets.
"It's a proactive approach regarding the safety, health and well-being
of employees nationwide," Brennan said.
Brennan said the pills are being offered much like free flu shots
were offered in the wake of the anthrax scares after the Sept. 11
The recommendation came up in meetings of the mail security task force,
comprised of representatives of postal unions, management associations
and the Office of the Inspector General, along with safety and medical
specialists and members of the mailing industry.
In January, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced it would provide
free potassium iodide to 33 states that had residents living within
a 10-mile radius of each of the nation's 102 nuclear reactors.
Like any medication, overdoses of potassium iodide can be dangerous.
Some people may experience allergic reactions, including nausea or
Phone calls to the American Postal Workers Union and National Association
of Letter Carriers were not immediately returned.
On the Net:
U.S. Postal Service: http://www.usps.com
Nuclear Regulatory Commission: http://www.nrc.gov
Food and Drug Administration: http://www.fda.gov