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2002 News from Mecklenburg County

October 1, 2002


Charlotte, NC – The Mecklenburg County Health Department and health departments in Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, and Lincoln counties are preparing to distribute potassium iodide (KI) to residents within their respective counties living within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) around the McGuire and Catawba Nuclear Power Plants. 

Potassium iodide is not a replacement for evacuation.  It does not provide protection from full body

irradiation or other radioactive elements that may be the result of a nuclear power plant release.  Potassium iodide only protects the thyroid gland from one form of radiation.  If there were an actual nuclear release, it would likely contain many types of radiation that may affect additional organs in the body. 

Potassium iodide, or KI, is a type of salt that is added to table salt in small amounts to "iodize" the salt so that people have sufficient iodine in their diets to maintain normal, healthy thyroid function.  KI is also a non-prescription medication that is used to protect the thyroid gland in the event of a radiological emergency.  If taken at the appropriate time and at the proper dosage, KI blocks the thyroid gland's uptake of radioactive iodine, thereby reducing the risk of thyroid cancer. 

KI is considered safe for most people but can cause minor side effects such as gastrointestinal disturbances and rashes.  Those who are allergic to iodine should not take KI.  Anyone who is not sure if they can take KI should talk to their doctor.  Do not take KI unless public health officials tell you to do so. 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has agreed to supply KI free-of-charge to states wishing to make it available to people living within the 10-mile EPZ.  Residents within the 10-mile EPZ are not required to accept the KI. Arrangements are also being made to make KI available to those working within the EPZ at a later time.  South Carolina officials are arranging a separate distribution effort for those in the 10-mile EPZ surrounding the Catawba Nuclear Power Plant. 

People living in the 10 mile EPZ receive emergency planning information in the form of a calendar each year.  The 10-mile McGuire Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) is roughly within these boundaries: 

North: Highway 150 in Catawba County, Mayhew/Brawley School Road/Shearer's Road in Iredell County

East: Mecklenburg-Cabarrus County line

South: Eastfield Road/Mt. Holly Road in Mecklenburg County, Charles Raper Jonas Highway/Hovis Road in Gaston County.

West: Brevard Place Rd., SR 1358, SR 1362, SR 1362, SR 1373, SR 1368, King Wilkinson Rd in Lincoln County. 

The 10-mile Catawba Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) is roughly within these boundaries in North Carolina:

South of Bud Wilson Road and Union-New Hope Road to the York Co., SC line in Gaston County

South of Shopton Road and Arrowood Road, and west of 521 to the York Co., SC line in Mecklenburg County.

Each Health Department has agreed to set October 19 and October 22 as distribution dates. Times and locations for the distribution are still being established and will be announced the week of October 7.

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