Director of Radiation Protection Center: At the Moment in Bulgaria there is No Reason to worry about Radiation
Currently, in Bulgaria, there is no reason to worry about radiation and there is no reason to drink potassium iodide. This was stated by the director of the National Center for Radiobiology and Radiation Protection (NCRRP) Assoc. Prof. Zhana Dzhunova.
“In order to be effective, potassium iodide, which is in tablets, is drunk 24 hours before the appearance of radiation and up to two hours after its appearance,” she explained, quoted by BTA.
Assoc. Prof. Djunova emphasized that only one tablet of potassium iodide is enough. In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a very detailed guide, which once again noted when and how to drink potassium iodide, she said. It has some, albeit much lower efficiency, up to 8 hours after the appearance of a radioactive cloud.
Every day in our country measurements are made, assured Assoc. Prof. Dzhunova. The Ministry of Health has ordered daily measurements - air sampling and atmospheric deposition. In principle, the normal control carried out by measurements is made once every three months.
Our country has a good enough organization and the population will be warned in time when and whether to take iodine tablets. The tablet, tested before the appearance of a radioactive cloud, not only does not help, but harms warned Assoc. Prof. Djunova.
Iodine tincture should not be drunk
People should not drink iodine tincture, which is sold in pharmacies, warned Assoc. Prof. Djunova. According to her, this iodine, in addition to not helping, will harm people, especially people living in iodine-deficient areas. Iodine tincture is not drinkable but is used only for disinfection in surgery and for wound disinfection. Radioactive iodine is also used to treat thyroid cancer.
For children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, drinking potassium iodide unnecessarily is absolutely forbidden and harmful, added Assoc. Prof. Djunova.
Potassium iodide tablets, which are in the right dosage, are not sold in pharmacies, she recalled. These tablets are bought from the state, stored in warehouses and there are plans to distribute them.
The exact dosage of potassium iodide tablets cannot be achieved by dripping iodine on a lump of sugar, as people attempted to do after the Chernobyl accident. Assoc. Prof. Djunova recalled the phrase “the dose makes the poison” and pointed out that iodine on sugar will either overdose the amount or the dose will be insufficient and the desired effect will not be achieved.
Radiation background in Bulgaria
At the moment in our country, there is not even a trace of radiation, said Assoc. Prof. Djunova. According to her, the presence of man-made radionuclides is not detected in Bulgaria. The results for cesium - 137 and iodine - 131 are below the minimum measurable activity.
Every day the NCRRP publishes data from its own measurements on its website. There is also a link to the data of the European Radiological Data Exchange Portal, as well as a link to the website of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where there is information every day.
The Executive Environment Agency also has an available online system for measuring the natural radiation background. Communication campaigns are needed in Bulgaria, people need to be informed, she said.
Radiation background around Chernobyl
The IAEA website clarified that in the Chernobyl region a change in the radiation background was reported in an extremely small amount, said Assoc. Prof. Djunova. There are extremely sensitive sensors around the Chernobyl plant area. The IAEA's explanation for the change in values is related to the passage of heavy military equipment, which raises dust. This dust has been reported and there is currently no threat to the population.
Protection of the population from radiation
In the event of an accident, it is mandatory for people to listen, watch or read verified and reliable sources of information. According to her, when there is a report of a radiation cloud, people must go home indoors and close the windows of the premises. Going outside is not desirable. These precautions have almost the same effect as the potassium iodide tablet, assured Assoc. Prof. Djunova.
Another important thing is to study water, milk and the environment. The specialist advises in such situations to drink bottled water, not to drink water from wells, not to eat leafy vegetables, children to drink dry instead of fresh milk. All animals should be housed indoors and fed dry food - mixtures, instead of grazing grass.
In an accident at a nuclear power plant, iodine, cesium, strontium, etc. are released into the atmosphere. There is no prophylaxis for the effects of cesium and strontium. A potassium iodide tablet given in time should protect the body from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation when inhaling iodine.
Iodine, during respiration, enters the body and accumulates in the thyroid gland. If the tablet is taken at the right time - when the radiation cloud is above our head, the gland fills with iodine and does not accumulate radioactive iodine, explained Assoc. Prof. Djunova. The tablet provides the body with stable iodine. According to the doctor, some countries do not plan to give iodine to the population at all, because the tablets may not always reach people in time.
Potassium iodide tablets are renewed every 5 years in reserve
People were worried about the information that the state allocates certain funds for the purchase of potassium iodide tablets to replenish the reserve, but this was necessary because their quantity is renewed every five years. These tablets are a pharmaceutical preparation and have an expiration date. It has been proven, and many countries in Europe take it into account, that after this period, the tablets do not lose their effect, but because they are pharmaceutical, there must be a procedure to test them again. Bulgaria has adopted that potassium iodide tablets have a shelf life of five years. There are countries that have decided that this durability is 10 years. Their amount is calculated for the population up to the age of 40 because the risk for people over the age of 40 and the possibility of developing a thyroid tumor due to radiation is actually lower than the harm that tablets can cause. The latency period until the tumor develops is 20-30 years, which means that if a person is 45 years old, a tumor may not appear at all, said Assoc. Prof. Djunova.
WHO recommendations are for one tablet, except in very severe cases where a second one may be needed. There are enough potassium iodide tablets in our country, as we keep a reserve because of the Kozloduy NPP, where it is planned to provide them in a 30-kilometer zone. An additional reserve is maintained if tablets have to be provided to people living in the other part of the country.
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