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Relax: Japanese radiation isn’t coming to eat you

Potassium iodideThe nuclear plant crisis Japan has become exposed to has made its way stateside. Various media reports say that people across the United States are clamoring to get their hands on potassium iodine pills in order to prevent radiation exposure.

The chemical is supposed to decrease the effects of radiation humans can absorbed, and the terror of what’s happening in Japan is causing alarm worldwide. But US health officials and pharmacies want you to know taking the pills is completely useless.

According to Health Day, there’s no need to stock up on the pills. “Don’t panic. This is close to an [sic] hysterical response,” radiation expert Jacqueline Williams of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Center for Biophysical Assessment told the site. “These pills only protect you against radioactive iodine, and we have seen only a little in the way of radioactive iodine being released [in Japan]. Given the fact that it has a very short half-life, it’s close to zero that any radioactive iodine of any quantity that would do any harm would end up on US shores.”

There have been suggestions that a cloud of radiation could make its way to the North American continent, and it has caused some panic amount consumers. Williams noted that event — which, let’s remember, occurred 5,000 miles away from the west coast — is extremely unlikely to affect US residents.