Updated: November 18, 2020 06:18 PM
Created: November 18, 2020 04:51 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - There are hundreds of uranium mines across the southwest region.
It was a booming industry between the 1950s and 1980s. Several decades later, numerous workers are feeling the damage from the exposure.
"A lot of the folks we work with are experiencing respiratory issues, so with COVID going on, that's an added burden for those folks," said Gail Nowosadko, outreach coordinator for the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program at UNM. "A lot people have shortness of breath, maybe on oxygen."
Nowosadko said the screenings can verify whether a person is eligible for compensation.
Under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, people can receive up to $150,000 for certain diseases. The deadline to apply for that is July 9, 2022.
Nowosadko says the date may seem far off, but she warns that filing a claim can take time.
"Our clinic at the university has been closed down temporarily since the middle of March because of COVID-19," she said. "We haven't been able to see anybody in person at that time."
Typically, they'd have 16 slots a month for free screening. They're encouraging people, if it's safe enough, to go to their local primary care physician for a chest x-ray and send it to the RESEP clinic for review.
Uranium mine workers, mill workers and transporters who worked between 1942 and 1971 are eligible.
UNM officials say it can take up to a year to process claims.
Copyright 2020 - KOB-TV LLC, A Hubbard Broadcasting Company