Frequently Asked Questions About the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
This summer, the federal government enacted the Camp Lejeune Justice Act as part of the PACT Act. The new law makes it easier for veterans and their families who suffered serious illnesses as a result of the contaminated tap water at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina to recover damages for medical expenses and other financial losses. To find out more, contact a Camp Lejeune water contamination injury attorney.
When and How Did the Contamination Occur?
As early as 1953, reports emerged that two wells that supply tap water to Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base were contaminated with dangerous chemicals. Marines and their families who lived at the base were exposed to the contaminated water when they drank it or bathed in it. Only after numerous tests showed high levels of contaminants and after former residents of Camp Lejeune became ill as a result of exposure to the contaminated water were the wells closed down in 1987. It is possible that the contaminants reached the wells through runoff from industrial operations near the base, from the cleaning of equipment at the base itself, through leakage from underground storage tanks, or some combination of those factors.
Which Hazardous Chemicals Were Present in the Water at Camp Lejeune?
Beginning in the 1950s, officials became aware that the levels of perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE) in the Camp Lejeune drinking water exceeded safe levels. PCE is a cleaning solvent used in the dry cleaning of fabrics, and TCE is used to degrease metal parts. Other contaminants, such as polyvinyl chloride and benzene, were also found in later tests. PCE, TCE, benzene, and polyvinyl chloride all belong to a category of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Water testing has revealed 70 different chemicals in the Camp Lejeune water at levels exceeding what is legally considered safe, but these other chemicals have not been directly linked to illnesses suffered by Camp Lejeune residents.
What Health Problems Did Camp Lejeune Residents Suffer as a Result of Exposure to the Contaminated Water?
The contaminants in the Camp Lejeune water have been implicated in cancers affecting many body parts, including the appendix, bile duct, bladder, brain, breast, cervix, esophagus, intestines, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, spinal cord, and thyroid gland. They have also been shown to cause non-cancerous damage to the liver and kidneys. Women who lived at the Camp Lejeune base before 1987 had an elevated rate of infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth, and their children were more likely to suffer from health problems related to in utero exposure to contaminants.
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