What Is a Downwinder?

When the U.S. government conducted nuclear weapons tests at the midpoint of the last century, it did so with the intent of bolstering weapons capacities that provided for the national defense. In the process, however, the nuclear tests were responsible for putting American citizens in harm’s way. 

Nuclear fallout from the testing done at the federal Nevada test site in the 1950s and ’60s exposed people living in the areas downwind of the testing sites to harmful chemicals and radiation—sometimes up to hundreds of miles away. Sadly, the link between radiation and certain medical conditions, including cancers, is well established. 

If you’re one of the “downwinders” who resided in the downwind areas of a qualifying testing site and later became impacted by certain medical conditions, including cancer, you might be owed compensation from the government. Read on to learn more and reach out to a RECA attorney for help with your claim. 

Where Are the Downwind Areas Located?

The federal government has identified downwinder areas that are more likely to be impacted by nuclear fallout. These areas span three states in the American Southwest, and residents who lived or were physically present in these areas during the designated time frames may be entitled to compensation through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). 

The officially designated areas include:

  • Counties in Arizona: Apache, Coconino, Gila, parts of Mohave (north of the Grand Canyon), Navajo, and Yavapai Counties
  • Counties in Nevada: A portion of Clark, as well as Lincoln, Nye, White Pine, Eureka, and Lander Counties
  • Counties in Utah: Wayne, Washington, Sevier, Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, Millard, and Piute Counties

The time frames that the U.S. government considers to be exposure periods vary by location and expected exposure. These include:

  • Having physical residence in a downwinder area for a total of two years—either consecutively or in total—for the period beginning January 21, 1951, and ending on October 31, 1958
  • Uninterrupted physical presence in an affected area from June 30, 1962, to July 31, 1962 

Cancers and Other Conditions Sometimes Suffered by Downwinders

The federal government has also identified some specific forms of cancer that it considers to be related to chemical and radioactive fallout. 

At present, those cancers include:

  • Lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Bile duct cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer 
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • And others–our team can give details

Wondering whether you or your family members are downwinders or meet the eligibility criteria for downwinder compensation? Contact a lawyer experienced with RECA from Stephens & Stephens for a free consultation. 

Are You or a Loved One a Downwinder? Call for a Free Evaluation

Successful RECA claimants may be entitled to financial compensation in the form of a lump sum payment from the Department of Justice. Could you or a loved one be eligible? Call an attorney from Stephens & Stephens for more information, including a free consultation. 

We don’t get paid unless you recover compensation. There are time limits to file a RECA claim, so act now. Call Stephens & Stephens at 716-852-7590 or fill out the form below to learn more.