Members of the public worried about health and radiation issues are being asked to call the California Department of Public Health at 916-341-3947.
The department will staff the phone line during business regular hours beginning today.
For after-hours callers, there will be a message referring them to the hours when a live operator will be available.
The county Public Health Department has noted that there is no recommendation by the county health officer or any other local or state authority to take potassium iodide in response to the nuclear power station crisis in Japan.
It should only be taken after specific instruction from public health authorities, county officials warn. Taking it could be hazardous for some people, particularly those with an existing thyroid gland condition or anyone allergic to iodine or shellfish.
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and state Office of Emergency Services has supplied the county Public Health Department with adult and child doses of potassium iodide. They were distributed to a handful of local pharmacies in areas where people live or work downwind of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, and the county also maintains a supply.
Potassium iodide — also called KI tablets — is not an anti-radiation pill or a panacea for all exposure to radiation. It does not protect other parts of the body from exposure to other contaminants, health officials warn.
However, it is effective in preventing the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodide, a compound that would be plentiful in a radiation release, if the pills are taken within four hours of exposure.
For information on where to get KI tablets locally, visit http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/health/kiinfo.htm. That website also has a printable voucher that’s required to obtain the tablets for free.
For general information about potassium iodide from the county Public Health Department, visit http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/OES/NPPInfo/ki.htm. That link also has information on private sources that sell KI tablets.