Germany to boost iodine stockpile in case of nuclear incident

Germany to boost iodine stockpile in case of nuclear incident
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Germany is stockpiling additional iodine tablets in case of a nuclear accident, according to reports. 

Germany's Federal Office for Radiation Protection told The Associated Press Thursday it ordered 189.5 million iodine tablets. 

The outlet said that is almost four times Germany's current stockpile, citing public broadcaster WDR, which first reported the story.

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The increase in tablets on hand is “to ensure a safe and widespread distribution in case of a radiological or nuclear emergency," Germany's Federal Office for Radiation Protection told the AP. 

The move comes as Germany plans to phase out all of its nuclear plants by 2022, the AP reports. However, the neighboring countries of Belgium, France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic will continue operating nuclear sites. 

Lithuania recently bought about $1 million worth of iodine, or 4 million tablets, as neighboring Belarus plans to launch a nuclear power plant, the AP reported earlier this week. 

Iodine tablets can help block radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But there are health risks associated with taking the pills and they should only be taken on the advice of public health or emergency management officials, the CDC warns.