Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Oklahoma, America’s Iodine King

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Iodine pellets, known as 'prills', the end result of the refining process at Woodward Iodine Corporation in Woodward, Okla.

Iodine is vital. The human body depends on it for cell reproduction. It’s irreplaceable in medical imaging. There’s a tiny bit of the element in every LCD TV screen.

The vast majority of the world’s supply of iodine comes from three places: The Chilean desert, natural gas fields east of Tokyo, and the Woodward Trench in northwest Oklahoma.

The three companies that dominate U.S. iodine production drill into the same geologic formations as energy firms, but make their money off of a substance the oil and gas companies usually throw away.

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