If you’re familiar with the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, then you know that it wasn’t always the beautiful community it is today.
Camp Lejeune has served as a prominent Marine Corps installation since the end of World War II, housing veterans and their families for decades. But in 1985, numerous water lines servicing the base were found to be contaminated with toxic chemicals.
Due to this contamination, people living at Camp Lejeune at the time of exposure have reported later suffering from over a dozen adverse health effects.
If you served or were stationed at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987, knowing these common health risks can help you determine if you have been a victim of water contamination.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Overview
The Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point water-treatment plants at Camp Lejeune served active military personnel and their families, the military base administrative offices, and nearby schools. After military chemists began conducting water tests on these plants in the early 1980s, they uncovered Camp Lejeune’s on-base water contamination problem, tracing it back to as early as 1953.
In addition to the contaminated plants, a local dry cleaner was also a primary source of water contamination, leaking trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE) into the groundwater. Poorly designed buildings on-site also contributed to surface runoff that contaminated the groundwater — whereas other toxic substances, including benzene and vinyl chloride, leaked from underground storage tanks on the base.
For over three decades, these damaging chemicals seeped into public drinking water. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), about a million Marines and their family members were resultingly exposed to carcinogenic substances, leading to a myriad of health consequences.
Health Issues Associated With Camp Lejeune
Since the late 1800s, ATSDR and clinical studies have assessed the health risks of the hazardous chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water. Based on their findings, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has begun recognizing these associated health conditions, now offering disability and health benefits to those who prove their exposure and coordinating health issues.
Cancer is a comprehensive and varied class of diseases, all characterized by abnormal cell growth. It is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and is determined by the VA to be a significant risk factor for Camp Lejeune residents.
The exposure to carcinogens in Camp Lejeune may have caused cancer by several mechanisms. If a person inhales or swallows carcinogens, the chemicals interact with DNA, causing mutations and creating cancer cells. Some carcinogens may even pass through the skin and disrupt cell reproduction.
Research indicates that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was a primary source of exposure to these carcinogens. According to the VA, the different types of cancer that have been linked to Camp Lejeune water include:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
Certain chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s water have also been found to damage men’s and women’s reproductive health.
A 2018 study published in the National Library of Medicine found a potential link between exposure to TCE and PCE and decreased fertility in men.
These chemicals have also been presumed to affect menstrual cycles and reduce fecundity in victims.
In addition, the long-term psychological and medical consequences of Camp Lejeune may have also triggered miscarriages among pregnant women. In an ATSDR Camp Lejeune Scientific Advisory Panel, the agency noted infertility, miscarriage, premature labor, and other reproductive health outcomes caused by Camp Lejeune exposure.
Neurological disorders are issues that affect the brain, the nerves throughout the body, and the spinal cord.
21st-century research has seen an association between Camp Lejeune’s water contamination and certain neurological issues. Exposure to the base’s toxic compounds is believed to damage how the nervous system works and lead to a suite of emotional, behavioral, and learning problems.
According to Consumer Notice, some Camp Lejeune-related symptoms of neurobehavioral effects include, but are not limited to:
- Involuntary muscle movements
- Memory problems
- Parkinson’s disease
Organ damage may also have been caused by exposure to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. TCE and PCE are toxic to the liver, kidney, heart, lungs, and skin. These chemicals may cause various physical health problems, including organ failure.
When internal organs are damaged, several related health issues can occur, such as:
- Hepatic steatosis
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Renal toxicity
How to Know If You’ve Been Exposed to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Determining your Camp Lejeune contained water exposure and resulting risks starts with pinpointing the years you were stationed at the Marine Corps Base. The earliest documented exposure may have happened when TCE was first used as a dry-cleaning solvent in the 1950s — persisting for decades until the late 1980s.
As a best practice, anyone associated with Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 should take necessary precautions and stay on top of their health concerns.
Through a thorough medical evaluation with a professional, you can assess your health risks and take legal action accordingly. As of August 10th, 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act permits all suffering Camp Lejeune veterans to file a lawsuit against the government — and receive compensation for any damages.
At Leav & Steinberg LLP, our team is ready to help you get the water contamination settlement you and your loved ones deserve through legal counsel that works for you.
Get Your Water Contamination Settlement With Help From New York Camp Lejeune Lawyers
Many scientists consider the contamination at Camp Lejeune one of the worst cases of toxic contamination in water supplies in the United States.
If you lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during the specific time frames and developed one of the health conditions outlined above, you may be eligible for a settlement.
Our personal injury attorneys can help you compile and submit your water contamination claim to the courts. We will review the facts of your case, help you establish legal standing for your claim, and represent you in negotiations with the government.
Request your free consultation with a New York Camp Lejeune lawyer to secure your water contamination settlement today.