Delay of Potassium Iodide Pill Distribution Endangers Residents, Los Angeles Times Says
California's plan to delay distribution of potassium iodide pills to protect residents who live near nuclear power plants from radiation exposure "is more than insulting -- it endangers people who need to protect themselves," according to a Los Angeles Times editorial (Los Angeles Times, 11/14). State officials in June announced a plan to distribute the pills -- which help protect against the development of thyroid cancer when taken within four hours of radiation exposure -- to 421,000 residents of Orange and San Diego counties who reside within 10 miles of two nuclear power plants to help protect against radiation exposure in the event of a terrorist attack on the facilities. However, the plan has been delayed until at least January because of a debate over how best to distribute the drugs to the public (California Healthline, 11/12). California officials are discussing another proposal that would keep the pills at hospitals at least 10 miles away from nuclear power plants, but the Times says that plan could result in clogged evacuation routes out of the affected areas and create chaos at hospitals during the distribution process. According to the editorial, the state is "replacing a simple plan with one that is complex and potentially catastrophic." The Times says that the state believes that California residents are "too stupid to follow simple instructions that would save their lives," adding that each day the state Office of Emergency Services delays distributing the pills "strains public faith in the state's own competence" (Los Angeles Times, 11/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.