Precautionary Iodine Tablets Are Being Distributed

In Switzerland, there are currently three active nuclear power plants, located in Gösgen (SO), Beznau (AG), and Leibstadt (AG). Everyone who is living within 50 km of one of these nuclear power plants is provided with a pack of iodine tablets (potassium iodide 65 SERB tablets) by the federal government, free of charge (for a map of areas included in this radius, visit The iodine tablets are distributed as a precautionary measure—in the event of a serious incident at a nuclear power plant, taking these tablets prevents any leaked radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland, which can lead to thyroid cancer. Note, however, that while iodine tablets are an effective means of preventing thyroid cancer for children, adolescents, and expectant mothers, they are not recommended for persons over age 45. The risk of developing thyroid cancer decreases sharply with age, and the possible side effects of iodine tablets thus become more significant. Therefore, if you are age 45 or older and are considering taking iodine tablets in the event of the kind of emergency for which they are provided, you should consult your physician or pharmacist.

Each person will intentionally be provided with more tablets than they will need, to ensure that tablets will also be available, if required, for any other family members or visitors in your home at the time who have not been issued such tablets or do not have them on their person. In regions outside of this 50 km radius, the cantons store enough iodine tablets to supply the population in good time should the need arise.

The iodine tablets have a shelf-life of about 10 years The shelf-life of the previously distributed tablets (which were packaged in a purple box) will soon be expiring; therefore, the federal government will be distributing new iodine tablets this autumn (packaged in an orange box). They will be mailed to all households in the affected area between mid-October and mid-November; you may have already received them in your mailbox. Your iodine tablets must be kept in their original sealed packaging and stored at room temperature (15-25°C), out of the reach of children. Your old tablets should be brought back to your local pharmacy where they will be properly recycled and the iodine recovered for other uses.

Note that the tablets are intended only for use in an emergency and must not be taken unless directed by the authorities. If an incident occurs that warrants use of the tablets, the population will be alerted and informed accordingly—via sirens, radio, and other media.

For more information in English about the tablets, the possible side effects, and how they should be taken, go to