Belgium will issue iodine pills to its entire population in a revised nuclear emergency plan. The tablets prevent the absorption of radioactive iodide.
Originally, iodine tablets were going to be distributed to people living near the Tihange and Doel nuclear plants.
The new plan follows the 2015 discovery that a senior researcher at a Belgian center responsible for a significant portion of the world’s supply of radioisotopes was spied upon by a terror cell.
Footage of the scientist recorded by brothers Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, who were among those responsible for the March terror attacks in Brussels, was found Nov. 30 during a raid on the home of Islamic State-linked suspect Mohamed Bakkali.
Concerns have also been expressed about the security of Belgium’s nuclear energy plants, which include two 40-year-old reactors.
“It is not linked with the safety of our nuclear plants,” Health Minister Maggie De Block said. “The recommendation came after Fukushima … because obviously after Fukushima, we have more information regarding nuclear risks.”
Despite other countries taking similar measures, potassium iodide, the active ingredient in the tablets, can’t protect the body from other radioactive elements and can cause side effects like gastro-intetinsinal upset, allergic reactions, rashes, and salivary gland inflammation, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.