Prussian Blue (“PB”) is a safe treatment for ingested radioactive isotopes that a person may have been exposed to from a dirty bomb or nuclear explosion. It does not protect against radiation, nor treat radiation sickness (there are supplement and drugs that help, see below.) It does not protect against all known radioactive substances (i.e., you would want to take Potassium Iodide (KI) as well to protect against radioactive iodine from a nuclear explosion.) It isn’t a substitute for evacuating out of the path of fallout, or for taking shelter from fallout in a protected place. It’s just one useful tool in the toolbox should you and your family be exposed to airborne particles of radioactive elements. And it can happen: the number of countries with nuclear programs is growing every year, there are nuclear reactor accidents (check a map for the reactors upwind of your home), and we often hear about terrorists wanting to make “dirty bombs” that spread radioactive material around.
Unfortunately, in spite of the government’s encouragement to produce Prussian Blue (PB) pills for the public, it’s not available yet in pill form. This means that if anybody wants this protection they’re going to have to make the pills themselves – which, as it turns out, isn’t hard or expensive to do! Here’s the information you’ll need:
Prussian Blue from this supplier is chemically pure. (I’m sure you could find other suppliers.)
MSDS showing it’s safe:
“Approximately 800 cosmetic products, including 627 deodorants, contain this substance identified as C.I. 77510. In the United States, the use of Ferric Ferrocyanide is permitted to colour externally applied drugs, including those for use in the area of the eye. In addition, Ferric Ferrocyanide is recognized to be a safe and effective internal treatment for thallium poisoning. This recommendation provides further indication of the safety of this compound.” – From the Wikipedia.
When you’re putting it into capsules just realize that it’s a very fine powder. One little puff of wind can leave your kitchen table with a coating of blue! It would probably be best to fill your capsules in the garage, or at least put out newspapers to catch any dust that gets away from you. Wear vinyl gloves or you’ll have blue cuticles for a while…
The likelihood that you’ll ever need this is pretty small, but if you’ve ever bought Potassium Iodide tablets you should consider buying this as well – and it’s cheap! Be sure to follow the dosing instructions at the aforementioned web sites from orau.gov!
Here is some good additional information about nuclear reactors and fallout paths courtesy of Nitro-Pak.
As you may notice, the CDC .pdf file on Prussian Blue advises people to not treat themselves with the artist’s pigment. [Prussian Blue, a.k.a. Preußisch Blau or Berliner Blau.] So a little observation and disclaimer may be in order:
1. Under ordinary circumstances, if a person were contaminated with radioactive isotopes the prudent thing to do would be to go directly to a hospital emergency room to be treated by a doctor for the problem. (Well, decontaminate first…) Don’t treat yourself!
2. In a regional or national disaster, local medical resources will be quickly overwhelmed and persons contaminated with radiation are not going to be able to be treated because there won’t be enough to go around, or because access to advanced health care will be impractical or impossible.
3. The information at the links I provided is specific enough for a layman in a disaster to easily administer Prussian Blue in a safe manner.
4. It’s possible that the PB that has been packaged for medicinal use is in some fancy enteric coated capsule or otherwise more suitable for treatment. And there’s no arguing with the fact that artist’s PB was not intended to be used to treat this medical condition. However, after considerable research I’m convinced that it can and will adequately treat certain radioisotope contamination.
5. Safe administration basically boils down to obtaining a pure supply in the first place. Some art supply places will not have pure pigments (note: the treatment is with pure PB powdered pigment – not with paint containing PB!). Shop around if you’re not sure.
6. The observant person reading through all of the links will discover that Potassium Iodide and Prussian Blue are only good for treating ingestion of certain radioisotopes. If the contamination included other radioactive elements, then additional treatments with specialized drugs requiring injections or inhalation therapy will be necessary. But those drugs require a prescription and are available only through the medical profession’s gateway – KI and PB are readily available and safe for laypersons to use, and will not harm the person even if there is no contamination.
God forbid we’ll ever need to actually take Prussian Blue, but if we do, the odds are very good that the government is not going to have enough to go around, or to start you on a treatment right away.
JWR Adds: Pharmaceutically manufactured KI tablets are available from a number of reputable Internet vendors, including JRH Enterprises, Ready Made Resources, Safe Castle, Nitro-Pak, and KI4U. In this post-9/11 era, it is impossible to predict when either a sub-critical radioactive dirty bomb or a low yield fission bomb will be touched off upwind from you–by some terrorist or by a rogue state. Take the time to study nuclear effects protection. At the very minimum buy a dosimeter, a rate meter, and some KI. Make NBC preparedness part of your family’s integrated preparedness plan. Following Richard Fleetwood’s guidelines, upgrade your retreat basement to fallout shelter specs. Or, if your home lacks a basement, build a root cellar near your house that doubles as a fallout shelter. There are lots of free resources available from The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, and the Surviving The Day After Discussion Forum. Also be sure to get a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills –a free downloadable book .(Print out a hard copy, or just mail order a bound hard copy.)