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Ministry of Social Affairs and Health updates guidelines on the use of iodine in case of a radiation hazard

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 11.10.2022 10.31
Press release 234/2022

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has updated the guidelines for the use of iodine in case of a radiation hazard. The previous version of the guidelines was published in 2002. The updated guidelines are based on the revised iodine recommendations published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017.

An accident at a nuclear power plant could release radioactive iodine into the environment, which could build up in the thyroid gland. This is most harmful to children, who are at greater risk of developing thyroid cancer due to large doses of radiation. Adults are not at the same risk, and it the guidelines no longer recommend that people over the age of 40 take iodine tablets in case of a radiation hazard.

Sheltering indoors is the primary precaution to take in case of a radiation hazard, because it is the most effective way to reduce exposure to radiation. Taking iodine tables is a secondary complimentary precaution recommended for people aged 40 or younger and for pregnant women. The rescue authorities will issue an emergency warning if people should shelter indoors and take iodine tablets.

The guidelines recommend that households with members between the ages of 3–40 procure iodine tablets for their homes. A single dose is usually sufficient. Iodine rarely causes side effects. However, people with thyroid conditions should be cautious.  

There are currently no iodine products suitable to children under the age of three for sale or available in Finland. Public healthcare services will procure iodine tablets suitable for children under the age of three and will determine the best way to distribute them to the parents of such children and to pregnant women. Regional healthcare providers will inform people when such an iodine product is available. 

Inquiries 

Pharmaceutical service: 
Elina Asola, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 163 437 

Radiation hazard situations: 
Mikko Paunio, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 312 

Healthcare: 
Tapani Hämäläinen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 312 
Vesa Jormanainen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 617

Maternity and child health clinics: 
Ritva Halila, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 420
Pia Suvivuo, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 163 517
[email protected]  
 

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