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U.S. Embassy stops distributing iodide pills to citizens in Japan

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is no longer supplying potassium iodide to U.S. citizens as a precautionary measure in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis.

The embassy had offered the tablets, used to treat radiation poisoning, to Americans who were worried and could not get doses from employers or elsewhere. But it had warned against taking the medicine because of health risks and stopped providing the pills on Friday because there is no significant danger of radiation outside a 50-mile radius of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactors, according to the embassy.

“We do not recommend that anyone should take [potassium iodide] at this time. There are [health] risks associated with taking (the tablets),””the embassy said in an announcement on its website. “It should only be taken on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials or your doctor.”

The medicine can damage the thyroid gland, especially in newborn infants, and produce side effects that include an upset stomach, severe allergic reactions, rashes, and inflammation of the salivary glands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From staff reports

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