What Diseases Are Related To Radiation Exposure?

Radiation Exposure

What is Ionizing Radiation?

There are many different types of radiation exposure which can be broken down into two main categories: non-ionizing and ionizing. Non-ionizing radiation has lower energy and exists in things like radio waves and microwaves. Ionizing radiation has extremely high radiation.

Ionizing radiation includes gamma rays, x-rays, and higher ultraviolet parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Humans can be exposed to radiation by ionizing radiation passing through their skin, or being inhaled or swallowed. It is extremely damaging to humans because it contains enough energy to remove electrons from atoms or molecules and can damage DNA cells.

“Atomic Veterans” and Radiation Exposure

The term “Atomic Veterans” refers to veterans who participated in “radiation-risk activity.” According to the VA, veterans who served in the following locations may have been exposed to ionizing radiation:

  • Occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan from August 6, 1945 to July 1, 1946
  • Prisoners of War in Japan during World War II
  • Participants in atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, primarily conducted in Nevada and the Pacific Ocean from 1945 to 1962
  • Underground nuclear weapons testing in Amchitka Island, Alaska prior to January 1, 1974
  • Any of the following gaseous diffusion plants for at least 250 days prior to February 1, 1991:
    • Paducah, Kentucky
    • Portsmouth, Ohio
    • K25 in Oak Ridge Tennessee
  • Worked as an x-ray technician, in a reactor plant, or in nuclear medicine or radiography
  • Did tasks like those of a Department of Energy employee that makes them a member of the Special Exposure Cohort

In addition, veterans may have been exposed in these additional circumstances:

  • The Fukishima nuclear accident in Japan from March 12 to May 11, 2011
  • The U.S. Air Force plutonium clean-up mission in Palomares, Spain
  • Exposure to depleted uranium
  • Exposure to radiation from Long Range Navigation stations (LORAN) from 1942 to 2010
  • McMurdo Station, Antarctica nuclear power plant from 1964 to 1973

What Diseases are Related to Exposure?

There is a regulation for claims based on exposure to ionizing radiation which outlines was conditions the VA presumes are connected to exposure and what veterans need to provide to receive compensation.

The VA recognizes certain diseases and conditions as related to exposure to ionizing radiation, veterans who develop any of those diseases as a result of their exposure to ionizing radiation will be service connected on a presumptive basis. This means that the VA will presume that their condition is the result of their in-service exposure, and the veteran will not need to provide a medical link. These conditions include:

  • Cancers including: bile duct, bone, brain, breast, colon, esophagus, gall bladder, liver, lung, pancreas, pharynx, ovary, salivary gland, small intestine, stomach, thyroid, urinary tract (kidney/renal, pelvis, urinary bladder, and urethra);
  • Leukemia’s, excluding chronic lymphocytic leukemia;
  • Lymphomas, excluding Hodgkin’s disease; and
  • Multiple myeloma

The VA also recognizes that there are other conditions that could be caused by exposure to radiation, but does provide the same presumption. These conditions include:

  • All types of cancers
  • Non-malignant thyroid nodular disease
  • Brain and central nervous system tumors
  • Posterior subscapular cataracts
  • Parathyroid adenoma

Because these conditions are not granted on a presumptive basis, veterans will have to provide medical evidence that their exposure was “at least as likely as not” the cause of their condition.

Veterans Help Group have been supporting veterans in getting the benefits they deserve since 1995. If you or a loved one served, and suffer from radiation exposure, we are here to help. Call Veterans Help Group at 855-855-8992 or complete our free veterans benefits case evaluation form.


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