For decades, dangerous chemicals were dumped in and around Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and leached into the water supply that fed family housing and other facilities at the large Marine Corps training base. However, it wasn’t until 1982 that these chemicals were officially identified as contaminants in the water used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), an agency affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted many scientific studies at the military base. They determined that exposure to toxins was responsible for many Camp Lejeune water contamination symptoms that often surfaced years later.
Approximately one million people who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune were exposed to trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, and other contaminants—and many of them developed serious, life-threatening illnesses.
Variables That Play a Part in Illness
Not everyone who served, lived, or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 became ill. The effects of exposure to the chemicals in the water vary depending on:
- Individual health and pre-existing conditions
- Length of exposure
- Means of exposure (e.g., drinking, breathing, touch, etc.)
- Amount of toxins exposed to
- During what point in life the person was exposed (e.g., pregnancy, infancy, midlife, or senior years)
Common Symptoms of Exposure
Based on studies, the ATSDR found that there is a connection between exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and sixteen illnesses.
In addition to the health effects verified by the ATSDR, studies on the effects of exposure to the types of chemicals that were found at Camp Lejeune are continuing. Although there is not enough scientific evidence to definitively connect additional illnesses to exposure, this could change as more is understood and the list of related diseases maintained by ATSDR for Camp Lejeune grows.
As it stands now, there is evidence of other illnesses that appear to have at least a causal relationship to exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.
Here are some of the known and suspected symptoms associated with exposure to the chemicals found in the water at the Marine Corps base.
Prolonged exposure to TCE is believed to be a contributing cause of kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cardiac defects.
There is also the potential that TCE exposure contributes to the development of leukemia, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, end-stage renal disease, Parkinson’s disease, and scleroderma.
Prolonged exposure to PCE is believed to be a contributing cause of bladder cancer.
PCE exposure may also contribute to the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and end-stage renal disease.
Prolonged exposure to vinyl chloride is believed to cause liver cancer.
Positive findings were found in at least one study that examined exposure to vinyl chloride and the development of brain cancer, lung cancer, soft tissue cancer, and liver cirrhosis.
Prolonged exposure to benzene may be a factor in leukemias and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Positive findings were also found in at least one study on exposure to benzene and aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, and miscarriage.
Health Effects That Still Need to be Explored
Positive findings were also found in at least one study on exposure to TCE and PCE and choanal atresia (nasal passages blocked with bone or tissue), eye defects, low birth weight, fetal death, major malformations, miscarriage, neural tube defects, oral cleft defects, small for gestational age, breast cancer, cervical cancer, esophageal cancer, lung cancer, Hodgkins disease, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, rectal cancer, impaired immune system function, neurological effects, neurobehavioral performance deficits, decreased blink reflex, and mood effects, and severe, generalized hypersensitivity skin disorder.
What to Do If Someone Gets Sick
If you or a loved one lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least thirty days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, you may be eligible for disability benefits and/or compensation if you fell ill with one or more of the diseases connected with exposure to the water contamination.
If you need help navigating the information and qualification process involved in the Camp Lejeune fiasco, contact a lawyer at Strom Law Firm. They are highly qualified personal injury lawyers who can make sure you and your family are properly compensated if you are a victim of the negligence that took place at the North Carolina military base.