Posted on March 17, 2011 at 6:08 PM
Updated yesterday at 6:28 PM
Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- Doctors say potassium iodide pills are most useful for people in a 50-mile radius of a nuclear plant emergency, to help protect the thyroid gland from cancer.
But what about the radioactivity that will blow over to the U.S.? Will the pills be helpful here?
The news of the problems at the nuclear power plant in Japan is causing fear right here at home.
"The phone has literally been ringing off the hook. People have become very concerned about everything in Japan. They are trying to protect themselves," said Patrick McCausland, the manager of GNC, Uptown on Magazine Street.
Gregory Espenan, an LSU Health Sciences Center Medical nuclear physicist, and expert in radiation protection, said this is pointless.
"Taking potassium iodide at this point is like putting on sunscreen in the rain," said Espenan
Espenan said after Chernobyl in 1986, his testing did find radioactive atoms here in Louisiana and he said the same is likely to happen from the nuclear power plant in Japan. But the tiny amount is easily handled by the human body.
"When the Chinese set off atomic bomb blasts, we found them here in the United States. Fallout travels over the whole earth, but the quantity is infinitesimally small and if it weren't for the ability to count one or two atoms at a time, we'd never be able to find it," explained Espenan...