Romanian Health Minister Alexandru Rafila has urged for calm across the country after pharmacies in Romania and other Central European nations reported they have sold out of iodine products, with many citizens preemptively using them for fear of a nuclear fallout as a result of the war in Ukraine.
Speaking on Monday, Rafila advised Romanians that there was no need to panic, and certainly no need to be consuming iodide products at this time.
“We have seen that there is a very high level of public interest and even a kind of fear associated with the use of potassium iodide,” the Romanian government official said. “Potassium iodide is a chemical that can be administered in the event of a nuclear incident, a radioactive leak, for example from a reactor,” he added.
“But everyone should understand two things,” Rafila told viewers. “Potassium iodide is not a universal panacea, it is administered to certain categories of people, mainly children, young people, pregnant women and not after the age of 40; and it does nothing to prevent the accumulation of radioactive iodine, if somehow the radioactive iodine reaches the atmosphere, because these incidents may result in other types of radiation, not necessarily with the existence of radioactive iodine.”
The minister said that the last time iodine was consumed in Romania in such large quantities was in 1986 following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, but he insisted that now there is no valid medical reason for doing so.
“Time is limited for administration and should never be taken as a precaution, as many believe,” Rafila warned. “Some think they’ve started taking. It doesn’t make any sense.
“It is very dangerous to use this substance without medical advice and in people who do not really need it because it causes serious imbalances in the thyroid gland and this is much more dangerous than any other exposure to a level of radiation resulting from a nuclear incident,” the health minister added.