Press Release

Provision of Iodine Tablets in the event of a nuclear accident

Mr Micheál Martin T.D., Minister for Health and Children has today, Thursday 27th September, 2001 assured the public that his Department is currently finalising the necessary arrangements for the purchase of new stocks of iodine tablets for pre-distribution in the event of a national nuclear emergency. Ingestion of iodine tablets may be effective in preventing thyroid cancer in certain populations, especially children exposed to radioactive fallout.

Stocks of iodine tablets were distributed to and held by all regional health boards since 1991 as part of the National Nuclear Emergency Plan which is co-ordinated by the Department of Public Enterprise. However it has emerged that some health boards have disposed of these stocks as they were past their “best-before” date and these boards believed that they were ineffective.

The necessity of continued stocking of iodine tablets as part of the health input into the National Nuclear Emergency Plan was reviewed as part of an update of the overall Plan. It was recommended that new stocks of iodine tablets should be purchased and pre-distributed as a more effective counter measure. The Minister for Health and Children has accepted this recommendation and is making the necessary arrangements for the purchase and restocking of these tablets.

“Only the most severe accidents will require the use of iodine tablets. In most nuclear accident situations staying indoors and avoiding consumption of certain foods that may be contaminated would be the advice given” said the Minister.