In 1982, the Marine Corps discovered toxic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune. The chemicals found are known or probable human carcinogens. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) estimates that water pollution started in the 1950s. Between 1953 and 1987, as many as one million people drank, cooked, and bathed in contaminated water, including service members, workers, family members, and civilians. Government agencies have linked water at Camp Lejeune to an increased risk of cancer, serious health problems, and adverse birth outcomes. You can learn more about the symptoms of Camp Lejeune water contamination below.
Camp Lejeune Chemical Exposure: What Chemicals Were Found in the Water at Camp Lejeune?
Due to composition, VOCs or chemical compounds can evaporate in the air and dissolve in water. Many VOCs are probable human carcinogens or are cancer-causing. The most dangerous chemicals found in Camp Lejeune’s water include:
- Tetrachloroethylene. Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene (PCE), is a probable human carcinogen. It is often used in dry cleaning, degreasing machinery, and other chemicals.
- Trichloroethylene (TCE). TCE is an industrial chemical and human carcinogen. It is used to degrease machinery, dry clean, and create refrigerants. It is also used in many household cleaning products.
- Vinyl chloride. Vinyl chloride is an industrially-produced gas and a human carcinogen. It is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC), plastic products, wire coatings, and vehicle upholstery.
- Benzene. Benzene is a liquid chemical primarily used to manufacture other chemicals for plastics and other materials. It is also used to make other products, such as pesticides and detergents.
What Caused the Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?
The Marine Corps found VOCs in the water provided by two of the base’s water treatment plants –
the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point treatment plants.
According to the ATSDR, the chemical PCE mainly contaminated the Tarawa Terrace plant. Waste disposal from ABC One-Hour Cleaners, a dry cleaning company located off the base, caused the contamination. The maximum PCE level detected in drinking water provided by the Tarawa Terrace plant was 215 parts per billion in 1985. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets a safe limit of PCE in drinking water at five parts per billion.
The chemicals TCE, PCE, vinyl chloride, and benzene contaminated the Hadnot Point plant. Investigations found that multiple sources attributed to the contamination, including leaking underground storage tanks, industrial spills, and waste disposal sites. The ATSDR calculated the maximum TCE level detected in drinking water provided by the Hadnot Point plant was 1,400 parts per billion in 1982. The EPA sets a safe limit of TCE in drinking water at five parts per billion.
Increased Risk of Cancer Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Exposure
Studies by the ATSDR have linked Camp Lejeune water to an increased risk of cancer, illness, and adverse birth outcomes. In 2017, the ATSDR released its assessment of evidence between water exposure at Camp Lejeune and specific cancers. Additionally, the ATSDR has completed further health studies to evaluate the relationship between Camp Lejeune water exposure and its effects on adults on children.
Tier I includes cancers and health problems with the most substantial scientific evidence of causation from Camp Lejeune water contamination. According to the ATSDR, there is sufficient evidence for causation between exposure to Camp Lejeune’s water and the following health issues:
- Kidney cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Liver cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Cardiac defects
Tier II includes cancers and health problems that can be linked to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune by studies and the presumptive conditions listed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, there is not enough research to conclude definitive causation. These cancers include:
- Multiple myeloma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Aplastic anemia
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Kidney disease (end-stage renal disease)
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Esophageal cancer
Tier III includes cancers and other adverse health conditions that have been linked to the chemicals found at Camp Lejeune in at least one study. They include:
- Brain cancer
- Soft tissue cancer
- Liver cirrhosis
- Ovarian cancer
- Lung cancer
- Hepatic steatosis
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Birth defects, including choanal atresia, eye defects, neural tube defects, oral cleft defect, and malformations
- Female infertility
Request a Camp Lejeune Case Referral From Our Attorneys Today
Warren & Migliaccio does not personally represent individuals and families in Camp Lejeune cases. However, we encourage you to contact us about a potential case referral. Attorney Christopher Migliaccio has a network of what he believes to be the nation’s top mass tort lawyers. Our firm will ensure that your Camp Lejeune case is placed with a dedicated and qualified mass tort attorney.
Working with an experienced attorney can help you obtain the best results for your unique situation. You can fill out our online contact form or call us today to discuss your situation and request a referral.