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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Diseases

Drinking contaminated water, especially over a long time, can create a host of health problems. From cancers to neurobehavioral effects, exposure to water contaminants can cause serious diseases and illnesses—which is what happened at Camp Lejeune.

Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps base in North Carolina that housed nearly a million people over the course of three decades. During this time, the drinking and bathing water at the base was severely contaminated, causing a wide array of diseases. 

In this piece, we will explore the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, the impacts of those contaminants on health, the diseases that resulted from the contamination, and the options that victims have, such as filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.

Water Happened at Camp Lejeune?

From August 1953 to December 1987, water from two out of eight water supply sources at Camp Lejeune was seriously contaminated due to the irresponsible waste disposal practices of an off-base dry cleaning business, ABC One-Hour Dry Cleaners. Over the course of over thirty-four years, this water was used for bathing and drinking by approximately 700,000 to one million residents of the base. 

Despite complaints, the contaminated water issue wasn’t taken seriously until the 1980s. Since then, the government has begun backing numerous studies to uncover the water contamination and its effects on people’s health. 

Details of Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Studies uncovered over seventy contaminants that were in the water at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987. The highest concentration of contamination can be attributed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as trichloroethylene (a degreaser), perchloroethylene (a dry cleaning solvent), vinyl chloride, and benzene. 

The concentration of these contaminants was 240 to 3,400 times higher than what is considered safe for consumption. 

What Is the Impact of These Contaminants on Human Health?

VOCs can be very harmful to a person’s health. In the short term, VOCs can cause irritation to the nose, eyes, and throat, as well as loss of coordination, headaches, and nausea. Over the longer term, the effects of VOC exposure can be more serious. They can contribute to:

  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Damage to the central nervous system
  • Memory impairment
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease

What Are the Diseases Associated With Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?

Research on diseases caused or exacerbated by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune is still ongoing and is being done as part of a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. However, given the data that has been analyzed so far, the VA offers disability compensation for eight illnesses. Coverage is offered to residents who lived at Camp Lejeune for at least thirty days between August 1953 and December 1987 and developed any one of these illnesses:

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

In addition, the department offers free healthcare to any former resident diagnosed with the following fifteen conditions:

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

What Are Options for the Victims of the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

If you resided at the Camp Lejeune facility for at least thirty days between August 1953 and December 1987, you have a few options for recourse, including compensation for water contamination-related heart disease and Parkinson’s disease.

File a Disability Claim

If you have been diagnosed with any one of the eight illnesses covered by the VA, you can file a disability claim online or by calling 1-877-222-8387 for help

Take Advantage of Free Healthcare

If you have any of the fifteen qualifying conditions associated with the contamination at Camp Lejeune, you can receive free healthcare from the VA. You can apply for these services at benefits/apply or call 1-877-222-8387 for help.

File a Lawsuit

If you feel that the water contamination severely impacted your life or caused the wrongful death of a loved one, you can consult an attorney at Strom Law to better understand the merits of your case. 

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which has already passed the Congress and Senate, is expected to be approved by President Biden. Once passed, victims will be able to file a civil lawsuit for compensation for the damage caused by the Camp Lejeune water contamination.   




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