Toxic substances in the water at Camp Lejeune were present over the course of three decades, potentially making their way into the drinking and bathing water of hundreds of thousands of people. Many individuals affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination have filed lawsuits, but many others still wonder if they were affected. In this blog, we discuss the symptoms of Camp Lejeune water contamination, as well as how you can file a claim.
At Reich & Binstock, our nationally-recognized trial lawyers are investigating and litigating cases on behalf of Camp Lejeune veterans and their families, as well as other Camp Lejeune residents. If you suffered illnesses or developed a disease after exposure to the contaminated Camp Lejeune water, contact our Camp Lejeune lawyers today. Call our office at 713-622-7271 or fill out our online intake form.
What Caused the Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Contamination?
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune had distinct sources. At the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant, the water was primarily contaminated by PCE (perchloroethylene). The water contamination occurred because of the poor waste disposal practices at ABC One-Hour Cleaners, which was a dry cleaning firm.
At the Hadnot Point water treatment plant, the water was primarily contaminated by TCE (trichloroethylene). However, PCE, vinyl chloride, and benzene were also present. The supply wells at this location were contaminated by several sources, including leaking underground storage tanks, waste disposal sites, and industrial spills.
What Chemicals Were in the Water at Camp Lejeune?
Four major chemicals contributed to the Camp Lejeune water contamination: PCE, TCE, benzene, and vinyl chloride.
PCE (perchloroethylene) is a man-made chemical that is widely used in dry cleaning and degreasing. Those who endure exposure to PCE could experience dizziness, headaches, nausea, and other symptoms if inhaled. Exposure to large concentrations of PCE could result in unconsciousness or even death.
TCE (trichloroethylene) is also a man-made chemical that is used as a metal cleaning solvent, a degreaser, and as a base for other chemicals. High levels of exposure to TCE can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, unconsciousness, and even death.
Benzene is a widely-used chemical that comes from both natural and man-made processes. In fact, it is one of the top 20 most used chemicals in the United States. Some of its uses include the making of plastic, resin, rubbers, dyes, lubricants, and synthetic fibers. Forest fires and volcanoes also naturally produce benzene. Inhalation of benzene drowsiness, dizziness, and unconsciousness. Long-term high-level exposure to benzene can cause cancer.
Vinyl chloride is a man-made chemical that can form when other chemicals, such as PCE and TCE, begin to break down. It is commonly used to make PVC (as in PVC pipes). Inhalation of low levels of vinyl chloride can cause nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, and unconsciousness. Exposure to very high levels of vinyl chloride can result in death.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Health Issues and Symptoms
Because of the chemicals and volatile organic compounds in the water at Camp Lejeune, scientific and medical evidence has shown that prolonged exposure could cause serious health conditions. During a period of 34 years, marines, their families, and others at Camp Lejeune were needlessly exposed to those toxic substances – all without their knowledge.
Luckily, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act 2022 is now in effect, and it aims to give Camp Lejeune victims and their families an avenue through which they can seek justice. The contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has been connected with more than a dozen serious health conditions. Many have even filed Camp Lejeune birth defects lawsuits. Our attorneys are here to represent Camp Lejeune veterans, their families, and others present at the Marine Corps air station during the period of contamination.
In the following sections, we outline the signs and symptoms of Camp Lejeune water contamination.
What Are the Symptoms of the Contamination of Camp Lejeune Water?
The symptoms one experiences from toxic exposure depend on a few things, including the level and length of exposure. Symptoms that arise from health conditions caused by the contaminated water are unique to those conditions.
In general, the symptoms of drinking contaminated water are as follows.
- Stomach pain
- Kidney failure
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Renal toxicity
- Certain neurobehavioral effects
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Other gastrointestinal issues
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of potential water contamination symptoms. If someone does not experience symptoms of exposure during their time at Camp Lejeune, it is still entirely possible that they will develop a health condition later on.
What Health Issues Are Caused by Camp Lejeune Water?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act establishes a list of presumptive conditions caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Those who developed any of the presumptive conditions after their time at Camp Lejeune may be eligible for VA disability benefits. The most prominent health issues caused by the contamination of Camp Lejeune’s water include the following.
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Fatty liver disease
- Breast cancer (including male breast cancer)
- Lung cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia
- Esophageal cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Prostate cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
As we can see, the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has been linked to many serious health conditions, including various cancers. If you or your family members lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during the period of contamination and later developed serious health problems, you may be entitled to compensation.
Camp Lejeune Water and Cancer
Many of the harmful chemicals in the contaminated water supplies at Camp Lejeune are known human carcinogens, or cancer-causing chemicals. Below, we outline some of the most common types of cancer that have been linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Camp Lejeune Bladder Cancer
According to scientific research, the contaminated Camp Lejeune water supply has been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer. This connection makes sense, as the water that we drink will pass through the bladder. No cure for bladder cancer exists currently, but early detection and treatment can improve one’s chances of recovery and effective treatment.
Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer is another serious concern for adults and children exposed to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. Many people think that the kidneys only serve to remove waste materials from our bodies by converting them to urine. However, they have many other important functions as well.
- Endocrine functions (related to hormones in the body)
- Regulation and control of blood pressure
- Balancing the acids and bases in the body
- Removal of metabolic and medication wastes
In other words, the kidneys are essential for many functions in the body. When these crucial organs develop cancer, the body’s immune system could become compromised. It can also spread to other parts of the body.
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer that is linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Studies show that both women and men who were exposed to the Camp Lejeune water contamination are at a notably increased risk of developing breast cancer than those who were not exposed.
Camp Lejeune Water and Birth Defects
Another shocking find ties the prevalence of birth defects with in utero exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) determined that Camp Lejeune babies who were exposed to the toxic water in utero were four times more likely to have certain birth defects. High levels of exposure to the Camp Lejeune water contamination correlates with higher rates of birth defects.
Camp Lejeune and Parkinson’s Disease
A special VA committee on Camp Lejeune also concluded that certain neurobehavioral effects, such as Parkinson’s disease are also linked to exposure to the contaminated water. Specifically, exposure to TCE has been deemed relevant to the development of Parkinson’s. Regular exposure to TCE can lead to a sixfold higher chance of developing Parkinson’s, and there is strong evidence to support this claim.
List of Diseases from Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Other serious diseases, conditions, and cancers have been linked to the Camp Lejeune water contamination. Many of these diseases qualify for VA health care benefits and/or disability compensation. The following conditions and health problems are connected to the toxic contaminants and industrial solvents found in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
Leukemia is a very serious form of cancer that affects the body’s blood-producing structures, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. Adult leukemia can present in different ways from leukemia in children. Leukemia in adults generally has the following symptoms.
- Chronic fatigue
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Chronic infections
- Unexplained weight loss
- Changes in body temperature
Treatments for leukemia are often very complicated and expensive, as they can include a possible bone marrow transplant, immunotherapy, or radiation therapy.
Aplastic anemia is another condition which affects the bone marrow in the body. Those with this condition cannot produce enough healthy blood cells for their body to function properly. Potential treatments for this condition involve bone marrow transplants and blood transfusions. Symptoms of aplastic anemia include the following.
- Chronic and unexplained fatigue
- Lingering infections
- Susceptibility to bleeding and bruising
- Not enough new blood cells in the body
This is another form of cancer that forms in the plasma cells of the body. Our plasma cells help us to fight off infections and diseases by producing antibodies. Those diagnosed with this condition may experience the following symptoms.
- Bone pain
- Chest pain
- Spine pain
- Chronic infections
- Weight loss
- Unexplained fatigue
- Appetite loss
This is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is responsible for producing, storing, and carrying white blood cells throughout the body. Cancer in this system can cause the white blood cells themselves to become cancerous. Symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include the following.
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Chronic fatigue
- Coughing and chest pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects specific neurons in a specific area of the brain. While genetics can play a role in one’s development of Parkinson’s environmental factors can also play a part. Those with Parkinson’s disease often experience the following symptoms.
- Tremors, mostly in the hands
- Poor balance and posture
- Inability to control the feet or facial muscles
- Loss of ability to write or speak
Are There Long-Term Effects of Camp Lejeune Contamination?
For many, yes. Not every person who was exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has developed or will develop one of the serious conditions we outlined above. However, other significant health effects can arise from long-term exposure to water contamination. We list these below.
- Anxiety and depression
- Changes in personality or moods
- Learning and memory problems
- Motor problems
- Dystonia or dyskinesia
- Poor concentration
If you were stationed at Camp Lejeune during the period of contamination and you developed an adverse health condition as a result, you may be entitled to compensation or disability benefits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
Do You Have a Camp Lejeune Claim?
In this section, we outline the criteria one must meet in order to file a Camp Lejeune cancer lawsuit or a lawsuit for another condition. Under the newly enacted Camp Lejeune Justice Act, veterans, family members, and civilians who were present at the base for at least 30 days from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987 can file a claim. We strongly recommend working with experienced personal injury lawyers for your case.
Attorneys will gather all necessary evidence to strengthen your claim, including medical records, military service records, and other crucial evidence. This way, you can rest assured that you’ll be as prepared as possible for the complex process of litigation. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to find out if you have a valid claim.
Contact the Camp Lejeune Attorneys at Reich & Binstock
If you were diagnosed with kidney cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, multiple myeloma, esophageal cancer, renal toxicity, or another serious condition after your military service or time at Camp Lejeune, you may be entitled to compensation. The toxic tort lawyers at Reich & Binstock are here to offer a free consultation for military veterans and their families regarding their Camp Lejeune cases. To schedule your consultation with us, please call our office at 713-622-7271 or fill out our online intake form below.