Camp Lejeune, a United States Marine Corps base in North Carolina, holds a dark legacy of water contamination that has affected the health of thousands of military personnel, their families, and surrounding communities.
From the 1950s to the 1980s, the base’s water supply was contaminated with various toxic chemicals, leading to a range of health issues. Approximately 1 million Marines, their families, and civilian workers were potentially exposed to the contaminated water.
In this article, we will delve into the symptoms associated with Camp Lejeune water contamination, shedding light on the significant health hazards faced by those exposed to this environmental disaster.
Table of Contents
The Background of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
To comprehend the severity of the symptoms of Camp Lejeune water contamination, it’s crucial to understand the history of the incident. The contamination primarily stemmed from industrial activities and the use of hazardous substances, including trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride.
The exposure of these hazardous substances to the water supply at Camp Lejeune occurred over an extended period, as industrial operations and improper waste management practices continued for years.
The result was the contamination of the base’s drinking water, endangering the health of military personnel, their families, and nearby communities.
It’s important to note that investigations and studies conducted over the years have identified these chemicals as the primary contributors to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. The consequences of such exposure have had long-lasting effects on the health and well-being of those impacted by this environmental disaster.
Understanding the Health Effects
According to TorHoerman Law, exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has been linked to at least 16 different health problems. Some of the most prevalent symptoms include:
A report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined the impact of the water contamination.
According to the findings, Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune had a roughly 10 percent higher risk of dying from any type of cancer compared to their counterparts at Camp Pendleton.
Moreover, marines stationed at Camp Lejeune were found to have a 35 percent higher risk of kidney cancer, around 70 percent elevated risk of multiple myeloma, around 45 percent higher risk of Hodgkin lymphoma, around 40 percent increased risk of liver cancer, and twice the risk of developing ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
To summarize, the water contamination at Camp Lejeune has been associated with various types of cancer, with Marines stationed there having elevated risks compared to those at other military bases like Camp Pendleton, as detailed in the report by the CDC.
Exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune can lead to reproductive complications for both men and women. A study conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) found that women exposed to contaminated water had a higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. These outcomes included stillbirths, preterm births, and low birth weight.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since the discovery of water contamination at Camp Lejeune in the 1980s, it has been reported that between 8,000 and 10,000 babies born to Camp Lejeune families have been diagnosed with birth defects. These birth defects specifically include oral clefts, cleft lips, and neural tube defects.
Exposure to the chemicals found in the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has been associated with various neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, cognitive impairment, and neurobehavioral abnormalities.
According to CNN‘s report, veterans exposed to these chemicals faced a 70% higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to the general population.
Furthermore, cognitive impairment and neurobehavioral abnormalities have also been observed among individuals exposed to the toxic substances at Camp Lejeune, emphasizing the detrimental impact on the neurological well-being of those affected.
Renal and Liver Diseases
Contaminants in the water can also affect the kidneys and liver, leading to conditions like chronic kidney disease, liver dysfunction, and cirrhosis.
There is evidence to suggest that exposure to the toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune increases the risk of autoimmune disorders, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
The Challenges Faced by Affected Individuals
The individuals affected by Camp Lejeune water contamination face several challenges in seeking diagnosis, treatment, and support. Many have struggled to connect their symptoms to the water they were exposed to decades ago, leading to delayed medical interventions.
Additionally, navigating the complex legal and compensation processes has proven to be a daunting task for those seeking justice and financial assistance.
Efforts for Justice and Assistance
Over the years, efforts have been made to bring justice to the victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination. The Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water Act was enacted in 2012 to provide medical care and compensation to affected individuals.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also recognizes certain health conditions associated with Camp Lejeune water exposure, providing benefits to eligible veterans and their family members.
The symptoms of water contamination at Camp Lejeune have had a devastating impact on the health of military personnel, their families, and the surrounding communities.
It is crucial to raise awareness about the long-term health hazards associated with this environmental disaster. Efforts must continue to ensure that affected individuals receive the necessary medical care, support, and compensation they deserve.