Radiation scare driving potassium iodide sales

Radiation scare driving potassium iodide sales »Play Video
Pharmacist Donna Barsky measures potassium iodide for a prescription at the Texas Star Pharmacy on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 in Plano, Texas. (AP Photo/Richard Matthews)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — When radiation began leaking from the earthquake-stricken Japanese power plants, the fallout was felt all the way to Cay's Health Foods in Bakersfield. People were desperate to buy potassium iodide pills.

Uncut interview: See what a CSUB professor had to say about radiation danger ↓

"I have probably gotten more calls in the last day and a half than I have in a month, and 90 percent of them have been related to potassium iodide," said John Harrer, owner of Cay's Health Foods.

Japan's nuclear crisis is spiking a demand for potassium iodide that can protect the thyroid against one type of cancer.

"It's something that's going to protect our thyroid from possible radiation, and with the trade winds coming in, they could be up here possibly in five to seven days," said customer Shauna Frank.

But the Kern County Health Department said people should just chill out.

"There is no reason to feel that there's any need for any kind of preventive measures such as potassium usage or anything like that," said Kern County Public Health Officer Dr. Claudia Jonah.

Jonah said people should not randomly start taking potassium iodide unless directed by a doctor. Some people are also allergic to iodine and would suffer an adverse reaction, said Jonah.

Uncut interview: Prof. says Kern County not in danger of radiation