Environmental Health Department
November 9, 2020
Potassium Iodide (KI) Tablet Distribution Continues during COVID-19 pandemic
The Windsor and Essex County (WEC) region is located within the primary and secondary zones of two (2) nuclear installations – the Enrico Fermi 2 and the Davis-Besse. Although both installations are not located within Canadian borders, the impact they have on our region is the same in the event a nuclear emergency occurs.
According to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), all nuclear installations must ensure that potassium iodide tablets are pre-distributed and that pre-distribution includes a public education plan. Potassium iodide tablets are a stable iodine salt that blocks the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine during a nuclear incident. In the improbable event of a nuclear emergency, residents will receive instructions from local and provincial authorities to take their tablets to prevent the long-term development of thyroid cancer.
Since the Enrico Fermi 2 Nuclear Generating Station and the Davis – Besse Nuclear Power Station are not regulated by the CNSC, the responsibility for potassium iodide tablet distribution falls on the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), the Municipalities of Windsor and Essex County, and the Ministry of Health. In 2018, the WECHU acquired over 17,000 potassium iodide (KI) kits and coordinated a multi-phase approach that involved distribution to primary and secondary zone residents. Almost 3600 kits were distributed to residents during the first two phases, with an online registration and distribution method implemented for the 2019 season. A targeted communication campaign was completed in 2019, which focused on families with young children in the primary and secondary zone resulting in the distribution of an additional 6500 potassium iodide (KI) kits within the community.
The ongoing distribution plan for KI tablets in 2020 was met a number of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic including post office delays and lack of volunteers to support community pick up centres. Despite some of these barriers, the WECHU has disseminated kits to over 10,600 households in our region this year. Distribution for the 2020 season ended in October due to temperature changes in the environment and will resume in the spring of 2021. The 2021 season, will see additional engagement with stakeholders such as schools, businesses and municipally owned buildings to discuss supply planning and storage in the event of a nuclear emergency.