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Potassium Iodide Distribution for Yokota
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 374th Medical Group starts distributing potassium iodide (KI) tablets at Hanger 15, March 22. U.S. Pacific Command directed distribution of these tablets as a precautionary measure. Base officials are stressing there is no indication of increased radiation exposure at Yokota AB. (U.S. Air Force photo/Osakabe Yasuo)
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U.S. Pacific Command directs distribution of potassium iodide tablets

Posted 3/22/2011   Updated 3/22/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


3/22/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- As a precautionary measure U.S. Pacific Command directed distribution of potassium iodide tablets March 22. Base officials are stressing there is no indication of increased exposure at Yokota AB.

"We want everyone who may need the pills to be prepared, whether it's because of potential mission-related hazards, or an unforeseen change in circumstances," said Col. Otto Feather, the 374th Airlift Wing commander. "At this point, there is no reason for people on or near Yokota Air Base to be concerned. This decision is purely precautionary and while there is no indication of increased exposure, distributing the tablets now means people have them in case they need them later."

No one should take the tablets at this time and no one should take the tablets in the future unless advised to do so by U.S. authorities.

The tablets work by flooding receptors in the thyroid gland with iodine so the body doesn't absorb overwhelming amounts of irradiated iodine in the event of exposure. Irradiated iodine can cause nausea, vomiting and other issues, explained Capt. (Dr.) Robert Ochsner, an urgent care physician at the 374th Medical Group.

"There is currently no need for anyone at Yokota to begin taking the tablets," Doctor Ochsner said. "While KI is safe, it can be harmful to take them incorrectly and they should only be taken once in a 24-hour period and only then after base leadership has determined it's necessary."

Experts test the air at Yokota hourly to ensure dangerous amounts of radiation aren't present. While small, trace amounts of radiation are normal and readily present anyway, there is no danger at this time, the captain said.

"There are cities in the U.S. that have higher levels of radiation than Yokota does right now," Dr. Ochsner said.

Because of the failed cooling system at a nuclear power plant near Fukushima, roughly 130 miles north of Yokota, there have been increased levels of radiation in areas near the power plant. Aircrew members and select others have received KI tablets if a mission might take them close to areas with elevated radiation levels.

"It's our responsibility to take all precautionary measures available to ensure the safety of our service members, families and other personnel who work at Yokota," Colonel Feather said.

The tablets are available for pick-up through the medical group for military members and their dependents. Instructions are included with the packets.

Officials ask that one representative over the age of 18 picks up packets for their entire household to minimize traffic at the distribution area.

A form is required to be filled out before a family representative will be given their KI tablets. The form is available for download on the base Website under "Japan Relief."

For more information, call 225-7342.



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