The conditions of Japan’s nuclear crisis keeps changing by the hour, and despite assurances that there is no imminent danger of radiation blowing China’s way, Beijingers aren’t taking any chances. The New York Times reports on a mad-grab for iodized salt over the last couple of days:
"…panicked residents combed pharmacies in a mostly vain search for potassium iodine tablets. The tablets are believed to decrease the risk of developing thyroid cancer from nuclear radiation, but few Chinese pharmacies carry them, although health officials said the government has a stockpile for emergency distribution. A clerk at one downtown Beijing pharmacy said more than 20 people had asked for the tablets in the past two days."
Never mind that iodized salt offers essentially no protection against harmful radiation, even if you were to "eat two kilos" (which, as the article adroitly points out, would probably kill you). In any case, this recent round of public hysterias (spurred on by those annoying SMSes) is reminiscent of the vinegar craze during the SARS crisis, when masked workers could be spotted dousing the sour-smelling stuff all around public spaces across the city.
In the meantime, Dr Richard offers a more sensible series of posts on the unfolding crisis and what does, and does not, apply when it comes to the effects of and measures against radiation.