Prussian Blue

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Illustration of Prussian Blue removing radioactive cesium and thallium


What is Prussian blue?

Prussian blue is a pill that can help remove radioactive cesium and thallium from people’s bodies.

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Illustration of how Prussian blue works


How does Prussian blue work?

Prussian blue traps radioactive cesium and thallium in the intestines and keeps them from being re-absorbed by the body.

The radioactive materials then move through the intestines and are passed (excreted) in bowel movements.

Because Prussian blue reduces the time that radioactive cesium and thallium stay in the body, it helps limit the amount of time the body is exposed to radiation.

Prussian blue reduces the biological half-life of cesium from about 110 days to about 30 days.

  • Prussian blue reduces the biological half-life of thallium from about 8 days to about 3 days.

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What is Prussian Blue Image


Who can take Prussian blue?

The drug is safe for most adults, including pregnant women, and children (2-12 years). Dosing for infants (ages newborn-2 years) has not been determined yet.

People who have had constipation, blockages in the intestines, or certain stomach problems should be sure to tell their doctors before taking Prussian blue.

Before taking Prussian blue, people also should be sure to tell their doctors about any other medicine they are taking.

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Prussian Blue how given illustration


How is Prussian blue given?

Prussian blue is given in 500-milligram capsules that can be swallowed whole.

People who cannot swallow pills can take Prussian blue by breaking the capsules and mixing the contents in food or liquid. Breaking open the capsules will cause people’s mouths and teeth to be blue during the time of treatment.

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What are the side effects of Prussian blue?

The most common side effects of Prussian blue are upset stomach and constipation. These side effects can easily be treated with other medications.

People may have blue feces (stool) during the time that they are taking Prussian blue.

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Prussian Blue pill illustration


Where can I get Prussian blue?

Prussian blue is available only by prescription.

People SHOULD NOT take Prussian blue artist’s dye in an attempt to treat themselves. This type of Prussian blue is not designed to treat radioactive contamination and can be harmful.

More detailed information on Prussian Blue can be found at the FDA Websiteexternal icon

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Page last reviewed: April 4, 2018
Content source: National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Emergency Management, Radiation, and Chemical Branch