“Downwinders” are loosely defined as those individuals that lived “downwind” from nuclear production facilities or nuclear test sites. In the United States, Downwinder communities exist primarily in the Pacific Northwest and intermountain range between the Cascades and the Rockies, in states like Nevada, Utah, Washington, Idaho, and New Mexico. Due to American atmospheric nuclear testing, Downwinder communities also exist throughout the Marshall Islands.
The election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980 saw the return of heightened Cold War tensions after a period of détente during the previous decade. The zenith of this escalation arguably came in 1983, when a NATO training exercise almost prompted nuclear war.