Water contamination is a problem that has plagued Camp Lejeune and its surrounding communities for many years. From the 1950s to 1987, the water at the North Carolina base was contaminated with toxic chemicals and waste from industrial and military activities. As a result of these contaminants, an estimated 500,000 veterans and family members who consumed or bathed in the water have contracted serious illnesses. These include cancer, birth defects, and other chronic illnesses
What Is Water Contamination?
Water contamination refers to the presence of toxic compounds or substances in water that can pose health risks to people. These substances include heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and chromium; chemicals such as perchlorate, methylmercury, and chloroform; and industrial waste such as oil, grease, solvents, paint thinners, rubber scraps, batteries, and detergents. People can become exposed to contaminated water by drinking, bathing, swimming, or using the water for cleaning.
Exposure to contaminated water can cause a range of health problems, including gastrointestinal issues, damage to the liver, kidney damage, reproductive problems, anemia, immune dysfunction, neurological disorders, and cancer. However, it is not all doom and gloom—there are actions you can take to reduce your risk of exposure and protect the health and well-being of yourself and your family.
What Toxins Were Found At Camp Lejeune?
PCE, or Perchloroethylene, is a compound used primarily as a solvent in dry cleaning. Exposure to high concentrations of PCE can have adverse effects on the nervous system. Scientists now believe exposure to high concentrations of PCE at levels above one part per million can lead to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease from contaminated water.
TCE or Trichloroethane, another chemical found at the base linked to cancer. Studies have found that long-term exposure to low levels of TCE leads to increased rates of liver cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. According to the CDC, nearly half a million people in the United States may have been exposed to the contaminant Americium-241, a byproduct of nuclear fission, due to releases from sites where it was produced and used between the 1940s and 1970s. Exposure to high levels of this radioactive material can increase the risk of lung cancer and leukemia.
Benzene is a common industrial chemical found in various household products, such as gasoline, car exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, nail polish remover, glues and adhesives, both mothballs, and perfumes. Overexposure to benzene has been linked to neurological effects such as dizziness, confusion, memory loss, headaches, and even death. It has been estimated that as many as 22 million people have been exposed to high levels of benzene and are at risk for health effects.
Tips To Avoid Exposure And Protect Your Health
As we continue to learn about the potentially harmful effects of the contaminants that have been found at the base and water systems at Camp Lejeune, it is important to remember the health and safety measures you can take to protect yourself from these substances. The following tips can help minimize exposure to these chemicals and reduce the risk of developing illnesses.
Limit your exposure to harmful chemicals by storing your products properly and avoiding the use of fragrances, air fresheners, and other scented products whenever possible. Whenever possible, choose natural and non-chemical cleaning products for cleaning and laundry and avoid spraying chemicals into the air in your home or garage. Choose organic foods and be mindful of your food choices when buying them.
Avoid eating fish high in mercury levels, such as tuna, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish. Eating fish in moderation can still provide you with a good source of omega-3 fats but check the nutrition label to find out if the fish you are eating is contaminated. Avoid foods that come from the factory farm industry.
The meat and poultry products from factory farms can contain more antibiotics than animal products that are raised naturally. If possible, buy organic or pasture-raised animal products. Be mindful of your consumption of processed foods that contain additives and preservatives and steer clear of these foods as much as possible.
If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the health issues related to Camp Lejeune water contamination and would like additional information, contact a personal injury attorney in your area. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to help you file a personal injury claim and obtain compensation for your injuries.