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Protection of the population with stable iodine in the event of a nuclear accident

Following the feedback from the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in March 2011 and the interministerial work that followed, several measures and works have been carried out, in particular, the special intervention plans (PPI) which now concern a 20 km perimeter around the nuclear power plants producing electricity.

In addition, the marketing authorisation for the drug "potassium iodide, pharmacie centrale des armées, tablets sécables" was recently extended by the Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé (ANSM) allowing repeated use for 7 days for adults and children over 12 years of age.

In view of these developments, the French High Council for Public Health (HCSP) has updated the 2004 recommendations on the protection of populations with stable iodine in the event of a nuclear accident at the request of the French General Directorate for Health (DGS).

Stable iodine, delivered in the form of potassium iodide tablets, when ingested early enough, saturates the thyroid with iodine and prevents the capture of radioactive iodine emitted in the event of a nuclear accident.

In connection with the mechanisms of cell division, it is of major interest for particularly vulnerable populations: young people, pregnant and breastfeeding women.

The HCSP has analysed the overall stable iodine distribution system in place and the strategy of the distribution campaigns at each level of intervention, from national to local, taking into account the available national and international scientific data, the parameters related to the population and behaviour.

In total, the HCSP issues 20 recommendations concerning:

  • the protection of the population by taking stable iodine according to the age of the population;
  • the potassium iodide treatments available
  • the organisation of the distribution of potassium iodide tablets
  • the perception of risk and behaviour.

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