Social uncertainties related to stable iodine intake in a nuclear emergency

Catrinel Turcanu, Tanja Perko, Roser Sala, Hanna Wolf, Johan Camps, Deborah Oughton

Research outputpeer-review


Intake of stable iodine intake is considered as an effective countermeasure for reducing the risk of thyroid cancer in an eventual release of radioactive iodine following nuclear accident. However, there are a number of value and social uncertainties that are likely to impact on accident management. These include differences in public response as well as decisions made by emergency management actors during an actual incident. In order to explore these sources of uncertainty, this paper explored social uncertainties related to the potential administration of stable iodine. First, public understanding and compliance with the advice of authorities was studied by surveys, showing that less than half of the public knew when iodine tablets should be taken, or understood their protective role. There were also country specific differences in the level of expected compliance with authorities’ advice. Second, social uncertainties were identified through observations of emergency exercises; these were revealed to be mainly related to timing, public response, communication, effectiveness, cross-border issues and first responders. Third, studies on factors influencing communication about stable iodine were carried out and showed that public understanding and compliance with advice could be improved by communicating numerical and narrative information. Overall, the results indicate that enhanced focus on social uncertainties during the preparedness phase may improve the effectiveness of stable iodine administration in case of an emergency.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2020027
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 15 May 2020

Cite this