Japan nuclear explosions prompts Finland iodine rush

Fears of possible radioactive leakages from explosions at a nuclear plant in Japan have prompted Finns to rush to the shops for iodine. Some chemists in Finland have reported selling out of the halogen since the news broke of several explosions at the Fukushima power plant following Friday’s devastating earthquake.

Increasing the amount of potassium iodine or stable iodine in the body reduces the ability of the thyroid gland to absorb and retain radioactive iodine which would be in the atmosphere in the event of a leak. Officials from the Radiation Safety Authority in Finland have, however, emphasized that there is currently no need for self medication.

Tuija Tilander-Leppa of the Mannerheimintie University Pharmacy chain in Helsinki said the public had clearly been rattled by the high profile events in Japan. “The demand for iodine tablets has been very high everywhere. We received a large consignment at our Kaivopiha outlet today and it has already sold out,” she said, adding that there are similar reports from all over the country.

Many Finns have left Japan since the country’s largest ever recorded earthquake (registering 9 on the Richter scale) hit offshore on Friday. Japan has also suffered several strong aftershocks and a tsunami, but all Finns living in the country are thought to have been accounted for.

A second explosion at the Fukushima plant was reported on Monday, but the government insists that the reactor core has not been damaged and there should be no radioactive leaks. The first reactor blew on Saturday, prompting technicians to use seawater to cool the unstable gases and fuel rods.