Maybe the Belgians know something we don’t. The country has just decided to give everyone iodine pills for use in the event of nuclear catastrophe.
The country already issued iodine tablets to people living within 12 miles of the country’s nuclear power plants. But its Health Minister Maggie De Block has explained that its widening that net to 60 miles, “effectively covering the whole country,” according to AFP.
In the event of a nuclear disaster, iodine pills help reduce radiation build-up in your thyroid gland—the part of your body most sensitive to radiation according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The thyroid can’t tell the difference between stable and radioactive iodine, so the potassium iodide pills can be taken to pre-emptively “fill” the thyroid with safe iodine before radioactive iodine enters the body.
The new policy follows concerns that terrorists may have been seeking to gain access to nuclear facilities as part of the Brussels terror attacks. Germany has recently also asked Belgium to power-down its Tihange 2 and Doel 3 reactors over safety concerns.
So far Belgium hasn’t acted on the request, insisting the two plants “respond to the strictest possible safety requirements.” But, err, better give the population iodine pills—you know, just in case.