Japan’s nuclear disaster spurs local supplement rush.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
As the world turns worried eyes towards Japan’s nuclear power plants, some locals are scrambling to protect their thyroids in the event radioactive fallout reaches Monterey County.
Potassium iodide (“KI” in chemistry shorthand) is a trending Google phrase, popular now due to its ability to block the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine.
By Monday morning, The Vitamin Shoppe in Seaside, Whole Foods in Monterey and Star Care Pharmacy in Salinas had sold out of KI supplements.
At Pharmaca in Monterey, associates told inquirers 19 boxes of a liquid KI product, ThyroShield, would be delivered at 3pm and sold on a first-come, first-served basis, with a one-per-customer limit. By 2:45pm, about a dozen people had queued up.
Among them was Helen Okada of Pebble Beach, who planned to FedEx a box to her daughter in Tokyo. “Oh my God. I made phone calls to 30 places,” she said of her search for the product.
A Pharmaca associate, who did not want to be identified, addressed waiting customers. “We’re out of harm’s way,” she said. “If you’re near a microwave you’re probably exposed to a lot more.”
While reports say the KI supply is dropping as fear grows, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the risk of exposure is low.