Local health officials in a four-county area near the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant will be distributing potassium iodide pills to residents living within 10 miles of the nuclear plant.
Potassium iodide pills, known as KI pills, are an over-the-counter medication that can reduce the risk of thyroid cancer from radioactive exposure. The pills are being distributed free of charge to help prevent health risks during a nuclear accident.
The pills are not to be ingested unless residents are directed to take the pills during an emergency. Officials warn that the KI pills are not an alternative for evacuation during a nuclear accident.
Local health officials began distributing the pills in 2002 within the nuclear plant's 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone. The cost of the pills is covered by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
About 74,000 people live within 10 miles of the nuclear plant, up from about 15,000 when the plant began operating in 1986.