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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC Division of Public Health
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Public Health Preparedness & Response

Potassium Iodide Program

Potassium iodide (often identified by its chemical symbol, KI) is a type of salt that is added to table salt in small amounts to "iodize" the salt so that people have sufficient iodine in their diet to maintain normal healthy thyroid function. KI is also made into a non-prescription medication that may be used to protect the thyroid during a nuclear power plant emergency involving the release of radioactive iodine. If taken within the appropriate time period and at the appropriate dosage, it blocks the thyroid gland's uptake of radioactive iodine, reducing the risk of thyroid cancer and other thyroid disorders.

North Carolina's public health preparedness and response measures have included a potassium iodide program since 2003, when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) supplied states with potassium iodide tablets free of charge for people within 10 miles of a nuclear facility. Assisted by DHHS staff, local health departments in these 10-mile Emergency Planning Zones (EPZs), ensure the availability of the pills to public and private schools, residents, workers, and businesses. See a map of North Carolina nuclear power plants and 10-mile Emergency Planning Zones (JPG, 95KB).

Statutory authority for the administration of potassium iodide is contained in North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 104E: North Carolina Radiation Protection Act.

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