Tests from well water and treatment plant samples identified the following toxic chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s water supply: trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride (VC).
These chemicals, found in some of the area’s drinking water sources, pose a severe health risk to anyone exposed. The Camp Lejeune water contamination has resulted in numerous lawsuits, with affected individuals seeking compensation for the health problems they have experienced due to exposure.
Contact our team for a free case evaluation, or keep reading to learn more.
Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals Found in Camp Lejeune’s Water
The main contaminant found in the tested samples was trichloroethylene (TCE). This chemical is used as a degreaser, and its health effects are not fully understood. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has labeled TCE as a human carcinogen.
TCE levels found at Camp Lejeune were 1,400 parts per billion (ppb). This amount is nearly 300 times the safe amount of TCE for drinking water, per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This chemical was used as a degreaser and in dry cleaning and has been linked to cancer and other devastating health problems. The level of PCE in the water at Camp Lejeune was 215 ppb, over forty times the maximum safe limit established by the EPA.
PCE degrades into other chemicals over time, including TCE and vinyl chloride, which are also toxic.
Vinyl chloride was also found in the water at Camp Lejeune. This chemical is associated with congenital disabilities and brain, liver, and lung cancer.
The U.S. Marine Corps has admitted the water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with vinyl chloride over thirty years ago. This chemical was used to manufacture Teflon and was released into the area’s water supply.
Many people were exposed to vinyl chloride while living or working at Camp Lejeune. If you or a loved one were among them, you could risk developing various cancers and other health problems.
Camp Lejeune’s water was also contaminated with benzene. The negative effects of benzene can show up years after exposure, so it’s important to understand the risks if you were stationed at or living at the base.
Benzene is a known carcinogen that can cause anemia, leukemia, cancer, and other health problems. This toxin is found in diesel fuel, gasoline, and certain cleaning products and is a byproduct of smoking cigarettes.
Health Issues That May Be Associated with Camp Lejeune
People exposed to the above contaminants may be at an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer and other health conditions, including:
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Renal toxicity
- Bladder cancer
- Lung cancer
- Myelodysplastic syndrome
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Brain cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Neurobehavioral effects
How These Harmful Chemicals Got into Camp Lejeune’s Water Supply
In 1982, an investigation by the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, revealed various toxic chemicals from a dry cleaning facility and storage tanks on the base.
The contamination of the area’s water supply is a complex issue that has taken decades to unravel. However, here are some of the ways that the toxic chemicals found in the water supply may have entered the system:
- Leaking underground storage tanks: It is believed that leaky underground storage tanks used to store fuel and other hazardous materials may have contributed to groundwater contamination.
- Improper disposal of chemicals: It is possible that chemicals were disposed of on the base, which could have led to contamination of the surrounding soil and groundwater.
- Industrial activities: Camp Lejeune was home to several industrial activities, including dry cleaning and metalworking, which may have contributed to the contamination.
- Runoff from nearby landfills: The nearby Onslow County Landfill and the Union Camp Corporation Landfill may have contributed to groundwater contamination.
- Contaminated water from other off-base sources: The water may have entered the Camp Lejeune water supply from other external sources through leaks or other means.
While the exact causes of the contamination are still being investigated, it is clear that a combination of factors likely contributed to the presence of toxic chemicals in the water supply.
Understanding how these chemicals entered the system is critical to preventing similar incidents from occurring in the future.
Efforts Made To Clean up the Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water has been a persistent problem for decades, with many individuals suffering adverse health effects.
While the contamination occurred over a long period, there have been several efforts to clean up the water supply and mitigate the impact of the toxic chemicals.
Here are some of the key efforts that have been made:
- In 1989, the EPA listed the Camp Lejeune water supply as a Superfund site, allowing additional resources directed toward cleanup efforts.
- In 1985, most contaminated wells were shut down. These shutdowns continued through 1987.
- In the years following the discovery of the contamination, various treatment systems were installed at the base to remove contaminants from the water supply.
- In 2012, the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act was signed into law, providing health care to individuals exposed to contaminated water.
- In 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.
While progress has been made in addressing the contamination, many individuals continue to suffer from health problems related to their exposure to toxic chemicals. Others have already passed away.
It is important for those who may have been exposed to seek medical attention and explore their legal options for compensation.
Our personal injury law firm is committed to helping those harmed by the negligence of others, and we have the case results to prove it.
Recourse for Those Who May Have Been Exposed to These Toxic Chemicals
Anyone who served at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 may be at risk for life-threatening medical issues. Fortunately, filing a lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 will not affect your eligibility for VA healthcare benefits or disability.
If you’re ready to learn more about filing a legal claim and getting the compensation you deserve, the attorneys at Miller, Dawson, Sigal & Ward are available to help. Contact us today to learn more during a free consultation.