Health department to distribute potassium iodide in northern Harford's Peach Bottom zone Saturday

Members of the general public who live or work within 10 miles of Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Station can obtain free potassium iodide (KI) to keep in their home or place of business by attending the Community KI Distribution Day planned by the Harford County Health Department on Saturday, Sept. 13, at North Harford High School.

 

The event is one of many Harford County Health Department initiatives to commemorate National Preparedness Month.

Both adult and child dose tablets will be made available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. North Harford High School is located 211 Pylesville Road, in Pylesville.

Residents will be asked to complete a short distribution form. Any time afterward, new residents and individuals previously unable to obtain KI during this event can do so by contacting the HCHD at 410-877-1028 to arrange to pick up their supply of KI, the health department said in a news release.

Health Department spokesman Bill Wiseman said information about the event has been posted on the Health Department’s website www.harfordcountyhealth.com and some direct notification has previously been made with the northern Harford Community.

Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Station is located near Delta, Pa., a few miles north of the Harford County border with Pennsylvania.

Potassium iodide is an over-the-counter medication used to help protect the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine, which might be released in the event of a radiation emergency, according to the health department.

In the proper dosage and administered within the medically appropriate time frame, KI can effectively saturate the thyroid gland so that radioactive iodine cannot accumulate there, helping to protect the gland from acute or delayed effects from exposure to RAI, the health department news release explains. “The use of KI is indicated only in such emergencies, and to be most effective, should be taken before or shortly after exposure to RAI.”

“This Community KI Distribution Day is an initiative to supplement the County emergency plans in the event of an incident where radiation is released from the Peach Bottom Power plant,” Harford County Health Officer Susan Kelly said in a statement. “While evacuation will remain the primary strategy by which to safeguard the public, the KI will afford citizens an extra measure of protection.”

KI is also pre-distributed to schools located within 10 miles of the Peach Bottom Power Plant, including Darlington Elementary School, Dublin Elementary School, North Harford Elementary School, North Harford Middle School, North Harford High School, and Harford Christian Academy. KI also will be pre-distributed to Broad Creek Boy Scout Camp, assisted living facilities and large daycares within the 10-mile zone, according to the health department.

“Should an incident occur while schools are in session, this would facilitate timely dispensing of KI to school children and staff,” Kelly noted.     

The health department also advises recipients of adult KI doses previously distributed should discard their old medication, which has expired.  The proper method of disposing of the KI is by throwing it away in the household trash for eventual removal to the local landfill.  It should not be flushed down the toilet or washed down the drain.

Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Preparedness Month encourages Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities. This year’s theme is “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare.”

Health department Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Swank says residents should ready for unexpected emergencies, citing as an example the many unique weather phenomena that have occurred in Harford. She also recommends using an Emergency Supply Checklist, available on the health department’s website, to prepare your household in the event of a disaster.

“Another important way Marylanders can take action to prepare is by joining MD Responds, Maryland’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC),” Swank said.

For more information about potassium iodide distribution or use, call 410-877-1028.

For more information about National Preparedness Month and to access comprehensive resources and emergency preparedness self-help information, visit the Harford County Health Department’s website or www.ready.gov.

 

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