Some analysts say the increased demand for radiation protection equipment is related to the alarming news: it would seem that the Russian citizens have decided to prepare for a possible nuclear threat if such were to happen.
Sales of potassium iodide and devices for detecting and measuring radiation levels increased several times on Russian marketplaces in spring and summer. This statistic was recently reported by the Russian Forbes.
Previously, a similar picture was observed in the United States: potassium iodide tablets disappeared from American pharmacies, as the Americans decided, just in case, to prepare for a nuclear war. A very similar situation developed in Europe, when people in multiple countries fearfully reacted to a possible accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
A study conducted by The Moneyplace showed that demand for anti-radiation medications in Russia has been uneven. In April, compared to March, sales increased by 103%, in May – by another 40%. In June, demand fell by 38%, and in July it rose again by 42%. Between August 1-22, sales fell 28% compared to July. Analysts suggest that the reason for the August decline is that many Russians have already stocked up in case of a nuclear war.
There is also another very popular item which is sought by many Russians: local customers are also actively buying hand-held dosimeters to measure the level of radiation in the surrounding environment. From August 1 to August 22, total combined sales increased by 161% compared to July.
What is potassium iodide?
Potassium iodide (stable isotope iodine-127) is used to neutralize the radioactive isotope iodine-131, which is one of the most dangerous decay products originating from the remains of nuclear fuel (such as is typically released to the environment during a radioactive explosion).
The radioactive iodine-131 accumulates in the thyroid gland, causing a person to develop malignant neoplasms, a type of cancerous tumor. They develop when cells grow and divide more actively than they should, while also introducing genetic damage to the cellular DNA.
As with all types of malignant tumors, neoplasms can spread (metastasize) to nearby tissues and to distant parts of the human body. Potassium iodide is known to at least partially counteract the pathogenic effects of iodine-131.
What are the Russians worried about?
During the last several months of their invasion to Ukraine, Russian officials constantly hint at the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons in case it was “forced” into a serious confrontation with any other Western military power.
In some situations, Russian propaganda uses even direct nuclear threats, for example, calling for a nuclear strike on British territory. Nearby countries supporting Ukraine (for example, Baltic states, and Poland) also receive regular doses of similar rhetoric.
The nuclear weapon is one of the most dangerous things available to humanity. In the past, this weapon was used in war, and people often forget what was the scale of devastation. According to scientific estimations, in the event of a nuclear war between Russia and the United States, about 5 billion people on the planet would die due to direct and indirect causes.