Other official information and services: www.belgium.be federal logo

When should you take them?

Never take iodine tablets on your own initiative. 

Radioactive iodine may be released during radioactive emissions. The authorities may then advise you to take stable, non-radioactive iodine. Iodine tablets contain about 1000 times the daily dose required for the body. This way your thyroid gland is saturated, and you avoid the uptake of radioactive iodine by the body.

However, iodine is only one of the possible components of a radioactive cloud. In addition, iodine is not necessarily released in every nuclear accident. An accident can still be in its first phase (threat phase), where no emissions have yet occurred. During this phase, the operator will make every effort to maintain technical control and to avoid or limit an impact outside the site. 

So beware:

  • Various radioactive substances may be released in the event of a nuclear accident. Stable iodine is only useful for emissions of radioactive iodine (odourless and colourless substance, only detectable with specific measuring devices).
  • You should never take iodine tablets on your own initiative, but only on the express recommendation of the competent authorities. Actually, stable iodine is only effective if taken at the right time, on the advice of experts
  • Always follow the recommendation to take shelter first. Sheltering is the best protection and always has priority over taking iodine, especially if you do not have tablets in the house.

The dose of iodine you need to take depends on your age. The younger you are, the more important it is to protect you against the negative effects of radioactive iodine. 

After ingestion, you will be protected for at least 24 hours. In the event of a nuclear accident, the chances are that you only have to take the recommended dose once. Of course you have to keep sheltering and not expose yourself to radioactive particles unnecessarily.