The Damaging Chemicals in Camp Lejeune's WaterThe Environmental Protection Agency tightened its regulations by 1980. Mandatory testing found high levels of chemicals in the water supply at Camp Lejeune in 1982. The results showed four volatile organic compounds were present.
BenzeneOne of the chemicals in the water was benzene. The compound hardly dissolves in water and floats on top instead. However, it usually has no color when it is at room temperature. Therefore, many people did not notice anything suspicious about the water they used. Repeated exposure increased the risk of illnesses in residents at Camp Lejeune. Researchers discovered how Benzene heavily affects specific cells in the body. A common issue is when a person's bone marrow does not replace red blood cells quickly enough.
PCEBusinesses may use perchloroethylene (PCE) to clean fabrics or degrease metal. The wells at the military base contained high traces of it, and the lack of color made it less observable in the water. Marines and their families suffered from the detrimental health effects. When the body absorbs PCE, the compound affects the function of the liver, kidneys, and immune system. Additionally, a person may experience neurological issues and impaired motor abilities. Other side effects include multiple types of malignant tumors.
TCEAnother volatile organic compound the tests discovered was trichloroethylene (TCE). Some businesses have used the chemical to clean metal parts. While it may be effective, TCE causes skin irritation after contact. A person experiences more severe side effects upon ingestion. Researchers traced TCE exposure to cancer in the liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system. Large amounts may impact the central nervous system as well. A few potential symptoms include dizziness, numbness in the face, and muscle weakness. TCE affects a baby's development in the womb. One study found the risk of birth problems was the highest if the exposure occurred during the first trimester.
Vinyl ChloridePeople primarily become exposed to vinyl chloride through inhalation. The gas can attach to water, and high temperatures release the particles into the air. An unsuspecting person may have inhaled a large amount of vinyl chloride over time while at Camp Lejeune. Vinyl chloride is another cancer-causing chemical. Service members in Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987 were at risk of diseases like lung cancer. Many people did not experience symptoms until years after they left the base.
The Diseases Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Multiple CancersA wide range of health conditions arose when residents at Camp Lejeune used the water to drink, cook, and bathe. However, some are more common than others. For example, investigations found a link between contaminated water and several cancer types. Due to contamination, the marines and their loved ones had increased chances of lung cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, breast cancer, and bladder cancer. Several people have had cancerous plasma cells and developed multiple myeloma. Various myelodysplastic syndromes became issues as well.
Non-cancerous DiseasesPeople have suffered from non-cancerous diseases due to contaminated water. For example, a veteran may have to treat fatty liver disease. Some doctors refer to the inflammation and buildup of fat as hepatic steatosis. Another possible medical condition is Parkinson's disease. The symptoms impede a person's ability to do daily tasks and enjoy life. Meanwhile, other victims developed Lou Gehrig's disease, known as ASL. As a result, they spend a lot of money on treatment to slow the condition's progress. Additional diseases include aplastic anemia and renal toxicity. A victim of water contamination may link other life-long effects to Camp Lejeune.
Neurobehavioral EffectsWater contamination from Camp Lejeune has led to neurobehavioral effects. A person could have difficulty with balancing and coordination. They may experience problems with their motor function. Learning at school or performing job duties can become demanding due to neurobehavioral effects. The reason is some victims report having poorer memory and concentration. However, the identification of neurobehavioral problems is not simple. Multiple tests exist, but a person may struggle to connect the issue to the chemicals.
Birth AbnormalitiesThe increased exposure to compounds like TCE increased the risks of birth complications in infants. According to a study, 12,598 children were born at Camp Lejeune between 1968 and 1985. Among them, parents reported 106 cases of birth abnormalities and childhood cancers. Some children had a low birth weight, and others were small for their gestational age. Major malformations and eye defects may relate to water contamination from the military base. A child could have developed brain, spine, or spinal cord issues due to the chemicals.
Other IssuesThe contaminated water can be the cause of a few other conditions. For instance, a portion of marines and other residents reported fertility issues. Among the men, 1,344 experienced infertility. Meanwhile, 373 women had infertility due to damage to their reproductive organs. Among the women who could get pregnant, a few suffered from miscarriages. While multiple factors contribute to a miscarriage, people have connected the cases to polluted water. Furthermore, neurological disorders like epilepsy have become a potential problem. Many people did not suffer from the effects of PCE or other compounds until years after they left the base. The illnesses and other medical conditions have taken an emotional and financial toll on the victims. Many of them have not gotten the compensation they deserve.
Damages in a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination ClaimDespite their efforts, many families could not get proper reimbursement for the long-term consequences of chemical exposure. While some veterans have been able to apply for disability benefits, the Department of Veteran Affairs denied others' claims. However, the bill Camp Lejeune Justice Act entered Congress recently. Many people expect bi-partisan support to turn the legislation into law. If the bill passes, the victims have an opportunity to get compensation for a multitude of losses. The damages a person can claim in a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit are:
- Health care costs. From diagnosis tests to treatment, a person may accumulate hundreds to thousands of dollars in bills. They might have to spend more on ongoing expenses for home health care services or medication.
- Lost wages. After many of the marines completed their service, they found other jobs. When a medical condition manifested, they needed to take time off work to recover. The unearned income made paying bills difficult.
- A loss of earning potential. Several long-term effects of Camp Lejeune's contaminated water were debilitating. A portion of victims could not work in the same capacity and needed job retraining. Meanwhile, others could not continue their careers.
- Mental anguish. In addition to physical discomfort, victims of water contamination have experienced mental suffering. They might have to manage distress, anxiety, and depression. Mental anguish can impact a person's personal life in multiple ways.
- Loss of companionship. Several of the diseases related to volatile organic compounds are life-threatening. Some people have passed away because of negligence from the Marine Corps. Surviving spouses can get compensation for their losses.