WIA Conference: Regulation needs to tackle iodine deficiency disorder

By Martim Facada
Published: Thursday, 14 December 2017

The first International World Iodine Association Conference saw more than 80 delegates gathered in Pisa, Italy, to promote a multi-stakeholder approach intended to tackle iodine deficiency disorders, develop new uses of iodine in health and nutrition, and represent the industry and its concerns to governmental and regulatory bodies.

The iodine industry came together in November to tackle the challenges of the iodine industry, such as a coordinated approach to the prevention of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) and the need for harmonized regulations for iodine intake per person.

Higher consumption of iodine through the consistent regulation of iodine intake per person across Europe and other regions could result in an increase in iodine demand, and could consequently push iodine prices upward.

"If we take into account the minimum recommended amount of iodine intake per day for adults of 150 mcg (micrograms), stated by the experts, the creation of a common policy across European countries to promote similar levels of intake per person would definitely increase demand for iodine," a consumer told Industrial Minerals.

"Moreover, if we look at pregnant women, the recommended dose per day would go up to 220 mcg whereas a breastfeeding woman would need 290 mcg per day," the producer added.

Iodine prices have increased steadily since the start of 2017 with iodine (crystal, 99.5% min, drums) spot prices at $22.50-24.00 per kg on November 23, up from $18.50-21.00 per kg in January.

EU policymakers are not doing enough to tackle IDDs, stakeholders said during the conference.

"EU policymakers are not giving enough attention to the prevention of iodine deficiency disorders," Dr Vincenzo Costigliola, president of the European Medical Association, said during his presentation at the conference. "Doctors have a double role: to inform both patients and politicians."

Dr John Allen, technical director at the European Feed Manufacturers Federation (FEFAC), said that while consumption of milk and eggs has the potential to supplement human intake of iodine, a lack of EU legislation has been a major obstacle.

News3 
Delegates at the first World Iodine Association conference
in Pisa, Italy November 17, 2017.

"Bringing together all the [participants] in the agri-food chain is essential to tackle iodine deficiency disorders," Dr Allen added.

The WIA was created to address the concerns of the iodine industry, Felipe Smith, chairman of the board of directors and vice president of business intelligence and business development at Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM), told Industrial Minerals.

The objectives of the WIA include tackling IDDs, representing the iodine industry and presenting community concerns to governmental and regulatory bodies to push for a universal minimum human iodine intake level, as well as promoting knowledge about, development of and the use of iodine, Smith added.

Attilio Caligiani, WIA director general, said that the conference has promoted a common multi-stakeholder approach toward the prevention of IDD.

"WIA’s mission is to raise awareness among policymakers about risks associated with IDD and to ensure their support in the near future," Caligiani said. A balanced iodine [intake] needs to be part of policymakers’ public health strategic planning for 2020-24."

WIA members include SQM, GE Healthcare AS, Iofina plc, AkzoNobel Salt Specialties, Calibre Chemicals Private Ltd, Deepwater Chemicals and European Salt Producers Association.

Delegates at the Pisa event included iodine producers, scientists, academics, members of the medical community, and sustainable food industry, feed industry and patient organisations, and policymakers.

The WIA board plans to hold its second conference in the next two/three years, Smith told Industrial Minerals, and hopes to include an even broader spectrum of the iodine industry.

Iodine’s Key uses
Biocides
Iodine-based biocides are used in paints, adhesives, wood treatment and fluids for metallurgy.

LCDs

Liquid crystal displays, such as those in high-definition televisions and touchscreen technology, make use of two sheets of polarising material with a "liquid crystal" solution between them. Iodine is a key component in the polarising films.

Nutrition

Iodine is important in the prevention of goitre, thyroid malfunction and cretinism, as well as growth defects in foetuses. In order to ensure people get their recommended intake, salt is iodised all over the word.

Pharma

Iodine is used as a raw material for x-ray contrast media, enhancing visibility during various bodily scans. It is also used in antiseptics, anti-radiation pills and as an active ingredient in various other pharmaceutical products, including antispasmodics, coronary vasodilators and neuromuscular blocking agents.