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Exposure to Radiation during Military Service

Veterans who served in any of the following situations or circumstances may have been exposed to radiation.

If you are concerned about the health effects of radiation exposure during military service, talk to your health care provider or local VA Environmental Health Coordinator.

  • Fukushima nuclear accident
    Servicemembers may have been exposed to low doses of radiation in Japan from March 12 to May 11, 2011, following a nuclear accident on March 11, 2011.
     
  • Radiation-risk activity (includes "Atomic Veterans")
    Activities include participation in nuclear weapons testing and the American occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
     
  • Military occupational exposure
    Various military occupations, such as nuclear weapons technicians and dental technicians, include routine and usually safe exposure to radiation.
     
  • Depleted uranium
    During an explosion, pieces of depleted uranium used in tank armor and some bullets can scatter and embed in muscle and soft tissue.
     
  • LORAN radiation
    U.S. Coast Guard Veterans who worked at LORAN (Long Range Navigation) stations from 1942 to 2010 may have been exposed to X-ray radiation from high voltage vacuum tubes.
     
  • McMurdo Station, Antarctica nuclear power plant
    The U.S. Navy operated a small nuclear plant at the McMurdo Station, Antarctica, from 1964 to 1973. The nuclear plant was decommissioned after a leak was discovered.
     
  • Nasopharyngeal (nose and throat) radium irradiation treatments
    Certain pilots, submariners, divers, and others were given this treatment during service in 1940 to the mid-1960s to prevent ear damage from pressure changes. These Veterans are eligible for a free Ionizing Radiation Registry health exam.
     
  • Radiation therapy
    Ionizing radiation can be used for the treatment or diagnosis of disease, most commonly cancer.

Learn how VA confirms radiation exposure during service.

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