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The chance that radiation from Japan's malfunctioning nuclear reactor will travel 4,000 miles to the coast of Hawaii causing widespread radiation poisoning is virtually nil. And if it did, there'd be ample warning.
This may placate most of us on the mainland, but it's not doing much for Hawaiians, who sit a few thousand miles closer to the tsunami-hit country. Instead of taking comfort in these facts, locals are out looking for protection.
Hawaiians have bought up nearly all of the local supply of potassium iodide, an over-the-counter drug that is marketed as protection against the harmful effects of radiation.
In the right doses and for the right persons, potassium iodide can help prevent radiation-induced thyroid cancer, explains the Contra Costa Times. But for people who suffer from iodine sensitivity, dermatitis herpetiformis, hypocomplementemic vasculitis, multinodular goiter, Graves' disease or autoimmune thyroiditis, potassium idodide can do more harm than good.
Though residents are panicking, the government doesn't expect Hawaii to have any problems. It, however, is monitoring the situation, and so should you.
Now, this is not a call to whip out the Geiger counter or start popping pills. It merely means that you should monitor your own intake of potassium iodide, looking for any harmful side effects.
And for those of you who have some potassium iodide that you'd like to sell, it's a suggestion that you monitor state law. You may not have the requisite license to sell over-the-counter drugs, and price gouging during emergent situations tends to be illegal.