Big exchange of iodine pills for nuclear emergencies takes place in Slovakia this August

Everyone living near nuclear power plants to receive pills, including refugees.

Illustrative stock photo, nuclear power plant. Illustrative stock photo, nuclear power plant. (Source: Unsplash)

Hundreds of thousands of people living in Slovakia are scheduled to exchange their emergency iodine pills, to be used in the event of a nuclear accident, this month.

Fresh iodine pills are distributed to people living in villages and towns in the vicinity of nuclear power plants every five years. This currently involves about 460,000 people in 224 municipalities in the given radius of power plants in Jaslovské Bohunice and Mochovce. The refugees temporarily living in these municipalities will also receive the pills.

The exchange begins on August 1 and lasts till the end of the year, the Interior Ministry wrote on its website.

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Not to be taken as prevention

Using iodine pills is strictly limited to the event of a nuclear accident.

“They are not to be taken in advance and serve only as an emergency solution in case of a radioactive iodine leak or imminent danger,” wrote radiologist Veronika Drábková from the ÚVZ SR public health office.

The active iodine substance is tied to the thyroid gland in order to protect it from binding radioactive matter, not meant to be used preventively. The pills are safe to use only after a clear and definite order by the state. Unused pills are meant to be disposed of.

Exchanging pills after five years is a standard procedure beyond the Slovak border, too.

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Municipalities distribute the pills

The pills are set to be distributed with the cooperation of nuclear power plants’ personnel and Interior Ministry.

Municipal offices are responsible for providing information to their residents on when and where to acquire the pills. The conditions vary from municipality to municipality, however the overall information is available on the notice board of the official Interior Ministry website.

The iodine pills will be given to all residents, including children with permanent and registered temporary residence in the municipality, as well as refugees who reside in the municipality under temporary protection status.

A separate group includes kindergartens, elementary schools, secondary schools, universities, their students and employees, company operations, social service homes, homes for the elderly, accommodation facilities and prison institutions.

In case of emergency and after a direct state order, it is advised to read the package leaflet before use and take the pill exactly per the instructions described.

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