NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Officials in Carmel, N.Y. handed out Potassium Iodide pills at a town hall meeting there yesterday.

Adam B. Stiebeling, Deputy Commissioner for Emergency Services in Putnam County, said the move was not prompted by either the recent killing of Osama bin Laden or the tsunami disaster in Japan that devastated the Fukushima nuclear facility.

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“This is an annual activity associated with Putnam County’s radiological emergency response planning,” Stiebeling said.

Steibeling suggested that residents who had previously received Potassium Iodide in liquid form exchange it, since it may have expired.

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Anyone who lives within 10 miles of Indian Point nuclear facility can get the free pills at Putnam County’s Emergency Services Office.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Potassium Iodide is a stable version of iodine. In the event of a release of radioactive material, a radioactive version of iodine will enter the airstream. Taking Potassium Iodide – also known as KI – will help prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing the radioactive iodine and contaminating the gland.

Potassium Iodide will not, however, prevent radioactive iodine from entering your body, or otherwise stop many of the effects of exposure to radiation. It will only serve to protect your thyroid gland.

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