One approach to reduce long-term health effects from a nuclear radiation emergency is to take potassium iodine. The typical dosage is 130 mg daily.
As the need for iodine pills is very rare and their typical shelf life is only 5 to 10 years, many people do not have them readily available. The time window for effective countering of health effects is only a couple of hours, and going outdoors should be avoided if there is radiation in the air.
Are there any common household supplies that could provide a safe alternative in an emergency?
Some products to consider:
- Iodized salt: depending on product, contains 5 to 40 mg of potassium iodine per kilogram. As such, necessary dose would require eating way too much salt, unless there is some straightforward way to separate the chemicals.
- Milk contains about 0.4 mg per liter, milk powder contains 5 mg per kilogram. Again too diluted to be effective.
- Iodine water purification tablets have apparently been studied for this usage and have been found reasonably effective.
- Povidone-iodine based disinfectants (such as Betadine) contain iodine and the packaging slip does warn against thyroid problems from excessive use. Ingestion at the disinfectant concentration can cause tissue and kidney damage. But is the absorption through skin deterministic and fast enough to get accurate dosage, or could it be diluted for ingestion?
- Some photography chemicals apparently contain potassium iodine, but they are obviously not medicinal grade and quite rare in any case.