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Camp Lejeune Chemical Exposure Health Consequences

Contaminated Drinking WaterCancer, Neurobehavioral Effects, Fertility Issues and Birth Defects, and More

Up to a million Veterans and their families, as well as federal civilian employees, were exposed to drinking water contaminated with toxic chemicals over the course of 35 years at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Since then, many of those exposed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) while living or working on the military base have reported suffering from medical conditions and complications that scientists have linked to these chemicals.

If you or a loved one exposed to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune have suffered health consequences that you believe to be related to contaminated water, the personal injury attorneys at Console & Associates, P.C. can help you understand your legal rights. Call our Camp Lejeune lawyers at (866) 778-5500 for a free consultation today.

What Toxic Chemicals Were Found to Have Been Involved in Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

The chemicals involved in the water contamination at Camp Lejeune are specific types of VOCs. Volatile organic compounds are defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as chemical compounds that have two properties:

  1. A high vapor pressure
  2. Low water solubility

The VOCs detected in contaminated water at Camp Lejeune include tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, and benzene, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

“Scientific and medical evidence has shown an association between exposure to these contaminants during military service and development of certain diseases later on,” the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported.

Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)

The VOC trichloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene and commonly abbreviated as PCE, is commonly used in dry cleaning. In fact, the waste disposal practices of an off-base dry cleaner called ABC One-Hour Cleaners were determined to have been the source of contamination at one of the two contaminated water treatment plants at Camp Lejeune, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

In 1985, the maximum PCE level found in water treated by the Tarawa Terrace plant on Camp Lejeune base reached 215 ppb (parts per billion), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reported. To put that in perspective, the current limit for PCE levels in drinking water is just 5 pbb.

Learn more about Camp Lejeune history with our water contamination timeline resource.

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Trichloroethylene, or TCE, is another volatile organic compound used in dry cleaning. Another common use for TCE is in the cleaning of metal components of machines.

TCE was the main toxic chemical discovered in water from the Hadnot Point water treatment center at Camp Lejeune. Although the level of TCE currently considered safe in drinking water is just 5 ppb, the TCE level found in contaminated water from this Camp Lejeune treatment facility in 1982 was up to 1,400 ppb.

Vinyl Chloride (VC)

Vinyl chloride is a VOC that may form when PCE and TCE break down. Although vinyl chloride is commonly used to make PVC plastic products, ingesting or inhaling the chemical can pose health risks.

Benzene

Benzene is found in many products, from rubber, plastic, resin, and nylon to dyes, detergents and lubricants.

What Health Consequences Result From Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

It’s an accepted fact that the contamination of certain water treatment plants on Camp Lejeune base by toxic chemicals occurred during the period from 1953 through 1987. Data analysis and modeling have demonstrated the duration during which these chemicals are believed to have been present at levels that exceed EPA guidelines.

It has also been established, by numerous research studies (often involving animal test subjects), that exposure to chemicals such as these can increase the risk of serious health complications and conditions.

“Scientific and medical evidence has shown an association between exposure to these contaminants during military service and development of certain diseases later on,” the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported.

What Is a Camp Lejeune Diagnosis?

Under the Department of Veterans Affairs guidelines last updated as of March 2022, what is a Camp Lejeune diagnosis depends on which program under which the claimant is seeking compensation.

Eight Presumptive Conditions for VA Disability Benefits

To claim disability benefits from the VA, a Veteran, Reservist, or Guardsmen must have a documented case of one of the following eight ‘presumptive conditions’:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

Additionally, you must have served at the base for a minimum of 30 cumulative days between 1953 and 1987, and you must not have been dishonorably discharged from the military.

 15 Conditions for Camp Lejeune Health Care Benefits

The VA also provides health care benefits for both Veterans and their family members who were exposed to toxic chemicals during their time on Camp Lejeune base. Under this program, a Veteran or family member may seek more limited compensation—covering their out-of-pocket medical expenses—that pertain to the following Camp Lejeune 15 conditions:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

Although the conditions listed above are the only conditions that currently qualify for the respective programs, many other medical conditions have also been linked to the chemicals involved in Camp Lejeune water contamination.

The Camp Lejeune Cancer Link

Researchers have uncovered links between the specific VOCs found in contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and several types of cancer.

Leukemia From Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Exposure

Exposure to VOCs has also been linked to leukemia, especially in adults. Research has indicated that the evidence points to a causal relationship between benzene exposure and leukemias. Further, there is sufficient evidence to suggest, though not to definitively conclude, causation between exposure to TCE and leukemias, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination and Bladder Cancer

The ATSDR reported sufficient research evidence to illustrate a causal link between PCE exposure and bladder cancer.

Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer

Sufficient research evidence exists to point to a causal relationship between TCE exposure and kidney cancer.

Liver Cancer and Camp Lejeune Exposure

Research evidence has shown vinyl chloride exposure to constitute causation of liver cancer, while there is sufficient evidence to suggest, though not to definitively conclude, causation between exposure to TCE and liver cancer.

Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Contamination and Multiple Myeloma

The research evidence available at this time is enough to suggest, though not to definitively conclude, causation between both TCE and benzene and multiple myeloma.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Among Camp Lejeune Vets and Families

For both TCE and benzene, there is evidence of a causal relationship between exposure to the chemical and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Additionally, there is sufficient evidence to suggest, though not to definitively conclude, causation between exposure to PCE and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Camp Lejeune Exposure and Breast Cancer

At least one research study has produced positive findings linking PCE exposure to breast cancer, although there is not currently sufficient evidence of a causal relationship.

Esophageal Cancer and Toxic Water Contamination

At least one research study has produced positive findings linking PCE exposure to esophageal cancer, although there is not currently sufficient evidence of a causal relationship.

Lung Cancer After Camp Lejeune Water Exposure

At least one research study has produced positive findings linking vinyl chloride exposure to lung cancer, and at least one research study has produced positive findings linking TCE exposure to lung cancer. However, there is not currently sufficient evidence of a causal relationship between either chemical and lung cancer.

Beyond the forms of cancer currently recognized under Camp Lejeune disability compensation and Camp Lejeune family member programs, there is some evidence that exposure to the VOCs found in contaminated water on the military base can increase the risks of other types of cancer. For example, victims of chemical exposure at the military base often ask whether there is a link between Camp Lejeune and prostate cancer. At least one research study has produced positive findings linking TCE exposure to prostate cancer, although there is not currently sufficient evidence of a causal relationship in Camp Lejeune water contamination prostate cancer matters.

Fertility Issues From Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Exposure

At least one research study has produced positive findings linking benzene exposure to miscarriage and at least one research study has produced positive findings linking both PCE and TCE exposure to miscarriage, although there is not currently sufficient evidence of a causal relationship.

Additionally, female infertility is one of the 15 conditions covered under the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 for which Veterans’ family members can seek health benefits.

What Are Neurobehavioral Effects from Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

At least one research study has produced positive findings linking both PCE and TCE to neurological effects and/or neurobehavioral deficits. Neurological and neurobehavioral effects of toxic exposure to these VOCs may include:

  • Delayed reaction times
  • Delayed recall and short-term memory issues
  • Problems with visual perception and color vision
  • Decreased blink reflex
  • Mood effects

Additionally, there is sufficient evidence to suggest, though not to definitively conclude, causation between exposure to both TCE and Parkinson’s disease.

Other Health Conditions Linked to Toxic Water Exposure

At least one research study has produced positive findings linking benzene exposure to myelodysplastic syndromes, such as aplastic anemia, although there is not currently sufficient evidence of a causal relationship.

Exposure to VOCs is also linked to renal toxicity. There is sufficient evidence to suggest, though not to definitively conclude, causation between exposure to both PCE and TCE and end-stage renal disease.

Hepatic steatosis, or fatty liver disease, is one of the 15 qualifying conditions recognized under the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.

There is sufficient evidence to suggest, though not to definitively conclude, causation between exposure to both TCE and scleroderma. Also referred to as systemic sclerosis, scleroderma refers to a group of rare diseases characterized by the hardening and tightening of the skin.

Filing a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

No Fee PromiseOur toxic exposure attorneys are fighting for the rights of Camp Lejeune toxic water survivors and families affected by Camp Lejeune deaths. The consultation is free and confidential, and legal representation is available on a no-win, no-fee basis. Call (866) 778-5500 today to have our Camp Lejeune lawyers review your case at no cost.

 

 

NOTICE: If you were at Camp Lejeune from 1953-1987 you may have consumed toxic drinking water linked to serious health problems, including cancer. Contact Console & Associates at (866) 778-5500 to discuss your legal options, or submit a confidential Case Evaluation form here.