Built in 1941, Camp Lejeune is an active military training facility and military base located in North Carolina. Since its inception, it has been home to millions of marines and their families. It is also the site of one of the worst water contaminant catastrophes in U.S. history.
Between 1953 and 1987, two of the main water supplies at Camp Lejeune contained astronomical levels of harmful chemicals that research shows cause a myriad of health issues and defects. Some such chemicals include perchloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), vinyl chloride and benzene. The effects of these chemicals are many and varied, ranging from male reproductive system dysfunction to liver and kidney failure to various types of cancers. Many women who lived at Camp Lejeune for any length of time also report having stillbirths.
In the more than 30 years that the contamination persisted, over one million individuals have since developed conditions related to it. To date, there are 16 health conditions related to water exposure at Camp Lejeune, many of which are life-threatening. If you or a loved one was stationed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 accumulative days between mid-1953 and late-1987, look out for symptoms of Camp Lejeune water contamination. If you live with or develop one or several of these symptoms, reach out to a competent and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer right away.
Conditions and Diseases Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Having originated in fuel depots, junkyards, dry cleaning businesses, oil waste and radioactive waste, the chemicals found in the main water supplies at Camp Lejeune were toxic. Not surprisingly, then, research has linked them to several diseases and conditions that diminish individuals’ quality of life and reduce their lifespans. Over one million individuals who lived on the base for any length of time went on to develop one or several of 16 illnesses and conditions:
- Breast cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Female infertility
- Kidney cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Lung cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Hepatic steatosis
- Renal toxicity
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Myelodysplastic disorders
- Neurobehavioral conditions (Such as Parkinson’s disease and ALS)
Frustratingly, the contamination continued for far longer than it needed to. According to an official report, officials at the base knew about the pollution as early as 1974. Yet, not only did they fail to take immediate corrective action but also, they failed to warn base occupants. As a result, it was not uncommon for individuals stationed at the camp to use contaminated water for drinking, washing clothes and dishes, cooking, bathing and brushing their teeth.
Symptoms of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The symptoms you may experience because of earlier water contamination depend largely on the conditions or diseases you develop and the type of contaminant to which you were exposed. Below are some of the more common symptoms of exposure to the chemicals found in Camp Lejeune water supplies.
Symptoms of PCE Exposure
Perchloroethylene — otherwise known as tetrachloroethylene or tetrachloroethene — is a chemical used by dry cleaners to dissolve oils, greases and waxes without damaging the fabric. Exposure to high levels of perc can cause immediate and severe symptoms, including the following:
- Vertigo and dizziness
- Skin irritation
- Irritation of the mucus membrane
- Cognitive symptoms, such as memory problems, confusion and the inability to follow instructions
Chronic exposure to high levels of PCE can lead to more lasting conditions, including irritability, fatigue, anxiety, short-term memory problems and loss of concentration. In the most extreme cases, PCE exposure can result in reproductive challenges, birth defects and certain cancers, including kidney and liver cancers.
Symptoms of TCE Exposure
Trichloroethylene is a volatile, manmade, colorless liquid chemical that manufacturers use to make hydrofluorocarbons and refrigerants. It is also often used as a degreasing compound. You may also find TCE in certain household products, such as aerosol products, cleaning wipes, paint removers, spray adhesives, spot removers and carpet cleaners. Though brief exposure is not uncommon, when individuals are subject to prolonged periods of high levels of exposure, TCE can have devastating consequences.
Immediate symptoms of exposure to high amounts of TCE may include the following:
- Diminished memory
- Decreased dexterity
- Reduced reaction times
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
- Cognitive decline
- Gastrointestinal distress, such as vomiting and diarrhea
Over a longer period, TCE exposure can cause a myriad of diseases and cancers. These include kidney disease and cancer, decreased liver function, liver cancer, prostate cancer, heart problems, reproductive health issues and fetal abnormalities.
Symptoms of Benzene Exposure
Benzene is one of the top 20 chemicals used in product production in the United States. Both a naturally occurring and manmade chemical, benzene can result from forest fires and volcanoes and be found in cigarette smoke, crude oil and gasoline. Manufacturers often use benzene to make other chemicals, such as those used to make resin, nylon, plastics and synthetic fibers. The chemical is also found in dyes, rubbers, lubricants, drugs, pesticides and detergents.
Benzene is extremely harmful to the body as, when ingested in any form, it can cause the body’s cells to malfunction. For example, benzene exposure can alter the blood levels of antibodies in the immune system, resulting in a loss of white blood cells. Understandably, both the short and long-term effects of exposure to high levels of benzene are severe and may include the following:
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
- Upset stomach
Symptoms often develop within minutes to hours of exposure. If a person does not die from benzene exposure through water consumption, he or she may go on to develop anemia, which could lead to excessive bleeding, irregular menstrual periods and certain types of cancer, including leukemia. Animal studies show that benzene exposure during pregnancy also causes delayed bone formation, low birth weights and bone marrow damage.
Symptoms of Vinyl Chloride Exposure
Vinyl chloride is a manmade compound that manufacturers use to make polyvinyl chloride pipes (PVC pipes), vehicle upholstery, wire coatings, plastic kitchenware and the like. Tobacco products also contain vinyl chloride for its combustion properties.
Exposure to vinyl chloride can cause a number of symptoms. Immediate symptoms of exposure include the following:
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other forms of digestive irritation
- Dizziness and sensation of inebriation and drunkenness
- Eye irritation
- Numbness or tingling in the limbs
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of libido
Long-term effects of vinyl chloride exposure include blood platelet disorders, multiple neuropathies liver disease and certain types of cancer. Many exposed persons also struggle with fertility. Those who do go on to have children report having children with developmental problems.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Health Challenges are the Result of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
If you or a loved one was stationed at Camp Lejeune during the period of contamination, or if your mother was pregnant with you during her time at the military base, know that you could develop one or more of the conditions associated with water contamination. If you do, you may have a case against the U.S. government.
Filing a Camp Lejeune Justice Act claim is a timely and complex endeavor. So that you do not unwittingly forfeit your rights to compensation, retain the help and guidance you need. Retain Jason Stone Injury Lawyers. When you schedule your free initial consultation, you can have confidence that There’s No Obligation. Just Information ®.