Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was opened in 1941 to serve the needs of the United States Marine Corps. It Camp Lejeune houses approximately 100,000 people–38,000 troops and their family members, civilians, and military veterans live on base and in the surrounding area.
From 1953 to 1987, something terrible happened at the base. But because of its silent nature and the long-term health damage caused were visible only decades later, no one could have known the consequences. Due to a series of failures in planning, safety, and inspection, the camp’s water well was poisoned with toxic contaminants. With so many veterans and individuals who were exposed to the contaminated water, what are the symptoms of contamination?
In this piece, we’ll look at the symptoms related to the Camp Lejeune water contamination scandal, as well as the contaminated water events themselves, and how they relate to the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit.
While there are many hazardous contaminants at a military base that could seep into the ground and well water, the smaller cause of water contamination was radioactive waste near the camp’s rifle range. Though the largest source of contamination appears to be from leaking fuel storage tanks, it is estimated that up to 800,000 gallons of fuel containing benzene seeped into the ground from leaky storage tanks and was a major cause of the contamination. The benzene then contaminated the water at Camp Lejeune.
Tragically, those fuel tanks were in close proximity to the primary well that serves Hadnot Point, where the living quarters of enlisted personnel, officers, and the base hospital were located. This means that for thirty years, exposure was inevitable for anyone who bathed in or drank the water in this area of Camp Lejeune. Veterans and service members were likely exposed to levels of benzene and other hazardous chemicals 240 to 3400 times greater than those at which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems safe for human contact. Exposure to the contaminants can have serious health consequences.
Symptoms of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
In regards to the service members and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune for thirty consecutive days between August 1953 through December 1987, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has stated they may have been exposed to water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals. Drinking this contaminated water with high levels of these chemicals has been linked to various serious health problems. If you are wondering, what are the symptoms of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune? The symptoms include:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
Other Symptoms from Water at Camp Lejeune
There could potentially be other less-common health problems and medical conditions related to toxic exposure from the water supply at Camp Lejeune, including:
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Renal toxicity
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical care immediately. These symptoms of Camp Lejeune water contamination are less common, but they can cause serious disability and health challenges for veterans and others who were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Cancer Symptoms
You’re entitled to disability benefits and free healthcare if you’re diagnosed with any of these health conditions and served at Camp Lejeune during the time of the contaminated water. In addition, as you can see from the evidence, there are many cancers that can arise as a result of the Camp Lejeune contamination.
While each cancer has its own signs and symptoms, there are some signs common to all cancers. If you or a loved one who was at Camp Lejeune during the contamination experiences any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult a doctor:
- Unintentional weight loss
- Unexplained fever
- Unexplained and prolonged fatigue
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Infertility Symptoms
It’s also important to understand how infertility is defined, as it’s a major cause of concern for people exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The current medical definition labels people infertile if:
- You’re a women under thirty-five years of age and have been unable to conceive after twelve months of regular, unprotected intercourse
- You’re a woman over thirty-five years of age and have been unable to conceive after six months of regular, unprotected intercourse
Of course, infertility affects men, too, and it’s very possible that your male partner has been rendered infertile by the Camp Lejeune contamination. In fact, when you visit a doctor for infertility, the doctor will check male infertility first because it’s easier and the testing is less invasive.
If the cause of your infertility turns out to be irreversible, you should know that adoption is always an option. In addition, new technologies like intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, and surrogacy can all be used to treat your condition. If the infertility can be connected to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, you can get the help of a lawyer to file a lawsuit once the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is passed.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Scleroderma Symptoms
Finally, it’s important to discuss scleroderma because it’s a unique health condition on this list. Scleroderma refers to a group of diseases that cause the hardening and tightening of the skin; the health condition can also affect other organs in the body, including the lungs, heart, and kidneys.
There are two types of scleroderma: localized and systemic. Localized scleroderma only affects the skin, while systemic scleroderma can affect both the skin and internal organs.
Symptoms of scleroderma include:
- Tightening and hardening of the skin
- Swelling and redness of the skin
- Raynaud’s phenomenon (poor circulation in the fingers and toes)
- Ulcers on the fingertips
- Digestive problems
- Muscle weakness
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor and get care right away. While there is no cure for scleroderma, early diagnosis and treatment can help improve your quality of life. Hopefully soon, you will also be able to file a lawsuit to receive compensation and benefits for the damages you sustained while at Camp Lejeune.
Your Legal Options Regarding These Camp Lejeune Water Contaminants
In addition to understanding the medical signs and symptoms of these health conditions, it’s important to know your legal options if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a disease or disability on the list. As of now, there are two things you can do to seek legal benefits:
- File a claim with the VA: If you or a loved one was exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and later diagnosed with one of the fifteen conditions on the list, you may be eligible for disability benefits and free health care through the VA.
- File a lawsuit: The Camp Lejeune Justice Act is expected to pass soon and provides a path for people to file lawsuits against the United States government. If you want to file a lawsuit, you’ll have to work with an experienced attorney at Strom Law.
Justice for the Veterans and Victims of Camp Lejeune
The recognition of water problems at Camp Lejeune began in the 1980s. For many victims, veterans, and their families, it was much more difficult to prove their case and receive compensation benefits.
Initially, the US Government and its inspectors only recognized a limited number of chemicals present in the water at Camp Lejeune. In 2009, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was forced to withdraw its previous 1997 study showing that cancerous effects were unlikely from the contaminated groundwater. The ATSDR was forced to admit that benzene, which was previously omitted from prior testing, was the largest culprit of the Camp Lejeune water contamination due to massive fuel leaks.
In 2012, due to an immense public outcry from Camp Lejeune veterans, victims, and their families, Congress passed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Act and the Janey Ensminger Act. Together, these acts offered free health care benefits at Veterans Administration hospitals for service members and their families and children–children who may have been affected not only by direct exposure, but also in the womb at the time of the mother’s exposure to the Camp Lejeune water chemicals.
These two acts, however, did not provide any form of monetary compensation to the victims or grant military veterans the ability to file lawsuits against the government for their injuries. Finally, in 2022, the US House of Representatives passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which will hopefully soon pass in the Senate. The passage of this act will enable Camp Lejeune victims and their families to receive additional financial compensation in disability payments or through