​What Diseases Are Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

For years, the Marine Corps exposed service members and their loved ones to grave harm at Camp Lejeune. When veterans were training at the base or housed there while readying for deployment, the real danger was in the water they bathed in and drank. Because of the Marine Corps’ carelessness and misconduct, hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families were in harm’s way. Many died, and countless others were sickened because of toxins in the water.

The Marine Corps Exposed up to One Million People to Danger

​What Diseases Are Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?The Marine Corps should have known all along that the soldiers who put their lives on the line for this country had exposure to dangerous chemicals. The design of the base, while it happened in a hurry, seemed haphazard and ill-conceived. One water treatment plant drew water from ground wells very close to chemical dumps. The Marine Corps knew these wells might degrade over time and did nothing.

Another well was located downhill from an off-base dry cleaner that dumped dangerous chemicals for years. With that knowledge, the Marine Corps might have conducted testing of the water to determine whether it was safe. Instead, the Marine Corps did nothing for 27 years after these wells opened. Even when the Marine Corps finally tested the water, it was seven more years until they shut these wells down completely, knowing full well that they posed a danger to service members.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an illness that you believe came from Camp Lejeune water, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact Boohoff Law for a free consultation today.

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Chemicals Found in Camp Lejeune Water

The Camp Lejeune water wells contained these dangerous chemicals:

  • Trichloroethylene – A chemical used to make refrigerants and as a metal degreaser, which is an industrial solvent
  • Tetrachloroethylene – A liquid used in the cleaning of fabrics (discharged by the off-base dry cleaner)
  • Vinyl chloride – A chemical used to make pipes and wire coatings
  • Benzene – A dangerous chemical and known carcinogen used as a chemical solvent (and commonly in gasoline and fuels)

Veterans and their families have been diagnosed with numerous diseases after exposure to this water. It did not take long for dangerous levels of toxins to build in the body. In fact, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows for financial compensation for people who suffered exposure to the toxic water for as little as 30 days.

Here are some of the diseases that have been linked to consumption or exposure to Camp Lejeune water. If you have these or any other health problem that you believe resulted from your time at Camp Lejeune, you need the right legal assistance right away. A lawyer can assess whether there is a link between toxic exposure and your illness and inform you of your rights to possible compensation for all of your illness-related losses.

Breast Cancer

In discussing the harmful effects of Camp Lejeune water, many people have focused on the diseases caused by drinking it. People also bathed in this water and used it to wash themselves and their clothing on a daily basis.

One common type of cancer that Camp Lejeune veterans have been diagnosed with is breast cancer. The fact that the water came into contact with their bodies externally also raised the risk of tumors outside the digestive system but inside the skin.

Many Other Cancers

One of the primary dangers of Camp Lejeune water is that many with exposure contracted cancer. All the chemicals detailed above (especially benzene) have strong associations with cancer. Those who ingested toxic substances have a much higher risk of cancer in any part of their body that regularly came into contact with the water.

When you think about how the body digests, absorbs, and eliminates water, you can sense the grave danger. At first, water will travel down the esophagus. The intestines absorb water and send it throughout the body as the fluid you need to live.

The water gets stored in the bladder, and the kidneys filter out the body’s waste. Eventually, the water is eliminated through the urine that travels through the urinary tract. Cancers in each of these body parts stem from exposure to the Camp Lejeune water.

Specific Cancers Connected to Camp Lejeune Water

In fact, the Veterans Administration presumes that eight illnesses result from Camp Lejeune toxins when injured veterans file claims for benefits.

Included in this list are:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Parkinson’s disease

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is cancer that affects the plasma of the blood cells. It is a very rare form of cancer that occurs when cancerous plasma cells crowd out the healthy cells in the bone marrow. The body can not create the antibodies needed to fight off infection. In addition, these cancerous cells can cause organ damage, especially to the kidneys. In particular, benzene has a close connection to cases of multiple myeloma.

The government understands that many Camp Lejeune victims have been diagnosed with this disease. As a result, multiple myeloma is on the list of health conditions that the VA states presumptively stemmed from exposure to toxic water.

A study found a much-elevated rate of multiple myeloma among former Marines and other stationed at Camp Lejeune.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a serious degenerative neurological disorder affecting the patient’s ability to move and speak. They may have rigid limbs and tremors. Parkinson’s disease (while usually not fatal) can completely rob a patient of their quality of life.

This disease rarely occurs on its own. Parkinson’s disease occurs due to damage done to brain cells from toxins in the environment. Exposure to hazardous substances eventually breaks down cells over time, and they do not regenerate.

Many cases of Parkinson’s disease have been connected with service at various military bases because of the chemicals used and buried onsite. Studies have found that the exact chemicals found in the Camp Lejeune water link to much higher than normal rates of neurological disease. For example, those who have sustained exposure to TCE may have six times the normal rate of cases of Parkinson’s disease.

Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes

These are injuries to the bone marrow (different from leukemia) where your body does not produce enough healthy blood cells. The body needs blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to other bodily tissues. A lack of blood cells can cause organ damage and harm to tissue. It can also cause extreme fatigue. This disease can be a forerunner to leukemia, increasing the chances of this deadly disease.

Studies performed by the government after the fact have documented higher rates of these conditions in people exposed to the Camp Lejeune water. The connection has been so strong that Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes are on the VA’s list of illnesses presumed to stem from the toxins in Camp Lejeune water.

Birth Defects

Camp Lejeune water also caused harm to both the reproductive system and babies who were born to parents exposed to the water. Not only have children suffered an injury (the federal law providing healthcare to Camp Lejeune victims was named for a nine-year-old girl who was at Camp Lejeune and died from cancer), but they may even have injuries from birth because of what their parents consumed before they were born.

Studies have confirmed an increased rate of birth defects in children born to parents at Camp Lejeune.

These birth defects may include:

  • Low birth weight
  • Cleft palate
  • Spina bifida
  • Babies born missing part of their skull or brain
  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth

One shocking federal study showed exactly how acute the danger was. In 2003, one study found that babies born to parents who were at Camp Lejeune had 265 times higher than the normal rate of birth defects. There are numerous babies buried at Camp Lejeune who were either stillborn or did not survive all the way to term.

In addition, environmental toxins also might increase the risk of autism in children. Although families may have difficulty proving a link, they may still file a claim if their child was born with autism.

Besides the numerous types of cancer discussed above, veterans and their families may have developed other illnesses from exposure to this water. The toxins detailed above can impact numerous other parts of the body.

Injured Veterans and Their Families Can Now Seek Financial Compensation

Thanks to a new law passed by Congress, injured veterans and their families can file a claim against the United States government for financial compensation for injuries they suffered from Camp Lejeune water. Previously, veterans could not sue for many reasons.

First, the Feres Doctrine blocks servicemembers from filing lawsuits against the federal government for injuries connected with their service. Second, there is a statute of repose in North Carolina that prevents lawsuits against a polluter more than ten years after their last act of pollution. Even though the government knew what happened at Camp Lejeune, it kept this knowledge from the people who needed it to file a lawsuit in time.

Congress Has Reduced the Burden of Proof for Causation for Camp Lejeune Claims

You may be wondering how you can prove that you suffered an injury due to Camp Lejeune water. In most personal injury cases, you will need to prove causation – that you might not have suffered an injury had it not been for the actions of the defendant. Normally, causation can be a challenge when you are alleging that something caused your cancer.

First, there are many illnesses that are presumptively connected to Camp Lejeune water, meaning that you will not need to hire expert witnesses or go to great lengths to prove causation. Second, Congress has helped Camp Lejeune victims by including a somewhat relaxed standard for causation in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.

To satisfy the causation element, you will need to prove that your injury:

  • Was caused by exposure to the water;
  • Was associated with exposure to the water;
  • Was linked to exposure to the water; or
  • The exposure to the water increased the likelihood of such harm.

You may still need expert witnesses for your case, but you will not be facing the uphill climb that may await you in other personal injury cases. Nonetheless, you will still need an attorney because proving negligence is only part of the picture in a personal injury case. You must still secure the appropriate amount of compensation for your injuries, and nobody knows yet how stingy/tough the government may be in awarding compensation (or even granting claims).

Act Now to File a Claim for Financial Compensation

Alex-BoohoffIf you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an illness that you believe came from Camp Lejeune water, you may be eligible for financial compensation. There is a new cause of action that Congress created specifically for you to allow you to file a lawsuit. You should contact a lawyer now because you only have until August 2024 to file your claim. When that date passes, you will lose the right to file any claim for financial compensation. The previous rules that barred lawsuits go back into effect.

It may take some time to get your settlement check (assuming that you qualify for financial compensation and can agree on an amount with the government). Therefore, you should begin the claims process now. If you cannot settle your case with the federal government, you may need to take your case to federal court in North Carolina, which is the exclusive jurisdiction for these cases.

An experienced Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney can review your case and advise you of your legal options. They will also help place a financial value on your case so you know how much to seek in damages from the government.

You can schedule a free consultation with a Camp Lejeune attorney, and you do not need to pay the lawyer anything unless you win your case. There will be no money out of pocket for you. You have a limited amount of time to take legal action, so reach out for the legal help you need today.

October 16, 2022
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