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Name: Lara G.
Status: Student
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: May 2004


Question:
I work in a wilderness program; my shifts are eight days on, six off. We drop all our water with iodine- eight drops per gallon. I drink at least a gallon a day, so I figure give or take I drink 64 drops of iodine every shift. Does this mess up the bacteria in my body?



Replies:
In large enough doses, everything is toxic. Here you have to balance the risk of iodine toxicity vs. the consequences of being infected by a water-borne pathogen or parasite (in the wild). I would vote for iodine every time!! An approximate calculation (below) suggests you are quite safe: 1ml ~ 20 drops. You take 8 drops.

Let us make that 10 drops to be conservative. So you ingest about 0.5 ml. of iodine solution. I do not know what the concentration is, but lets say that it is 1% active I2. So your 0.5 ml (assuming a density of 1 gm/ml, close enough) contains about 0.005 gm I2 or 5 mg/day. The toxicity rating for iodine for humans in the literature is 28 mg/kg. Estimate a body weight of 132 lb = 60 kg, which places the toxicity level of I2 at 1680 mg = 1.7 gm. So you are well below any toxicity concerns. Iodine is rapidly metabolized, so unless someone had a thyroid disease, its use should be quite safe in my estimation.

Vince Calder



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