Los Angeles County Not At Increased Risk to Radiation Exposure

The damage to nuclear reactors in Japan has understandably lead to concerns about the safety of individuals throughout the world, including here in Los Angeles County. The Department of Public Health, is cautioning residents against ingesting potassium iodide (KI) as a precaution against possible radiation exposure. It is not an effective precautionary measure.

“There is no increased risk of harmful levels of radiation exposure in the United States based on the situation to date at the nuclear power complex in Japan. Residents who ingest potassium iodide out of concern of possible exposure from this situation are doing something which is not only ineffective, but could also cause side effects,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “If a need should arise for residents to start taking potassium iodide to guard against effects of radiation exposure, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department – along with other local, state and federal agencies – will inform the public. We do not anticipate this need.”

However, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health – along with other local, state and federal agencies – is actively monitoring the situation. These agencies utilize a number of redundant monitoring systems capable of detecting any significant elevation in radiation levels. The public is encouraged to check reliable sources for up-to-date information.

All residents are reminded to prepare a basic, emergency kit to prepare for any kind of disaster. While potassium iodide is not a recommended component of such a kit, there are at least 10 Essential Items, as recommended by the Emergency Survival Program in LA County’s Office of Emergency Management, which should be included:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Cash and Important Documents
  • Clothes
  • Flashlight
  • First Aid Kit
  • Prescription Medication
  • Radio
  • Toiletries
  • Tools

For more information on earthquake and disaster readiness, call (866) 999-5228 or the LA County Information Line at 2-1-1. Additional information can be found on the Public Health website.