Romania to issue iodine tablets as Russian aggression continues in bordering Ukraine

Romania is launching a campaign to inform its citizens of how to store and take iodine tablets in the event of a nuclear incident, as Russia’s offensive in neighboring Ukraine continues.

“At the moment, there is no danger that makes it necessary to take these pills,” the Romanian health ministry underlined in a statement today.

The country has decided to provide iodine tablets to all people under the age of 40 from mid-April. In preparation, from Monday, the ministry will launch a public information campaign including advising people on how to take preventative measures to avoid radiation exposure.

While not explicitly mentioning the potential threat caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Romania borders the war-ravaged country where, up until recently, Russian troops were in control of both the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and the damaged site of Chernobyl. Russia also has an arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Romania’s policy will align with that of Finland, Bulgaria, Belgium and others that have for some time provided free iodine tablets to citizens, with some countries reporting a rush on pills since Russia’s invasion.

In the event of a nuclear incident, radioactive iodine can be dispersed into the air. Any that is inhaled or ingested is absorbed by the thyroid gland, leading to thyroid cancer. Iodine tablets can block that absorption and reduce the risk of cancer.

In its latest assessment of the risks, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Saturday that Ukraine was “analyzing the possibility” of resuming control of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant after Russian forces withdrew from the site following five weeks of occupation.

The Russian military continues to control the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, in the country’s south, since it seized the huge facility on March 4.

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