What Toxins Were in the Water at Camp Lejeune?

What Toxins Were in the Water at Camp Lejeune?

According to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), various colorless chemicals used in the dry cleaning process were in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC. Those chemicals included:

  • Benzene
  • Vinyl chloride (VC) 
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)

These chemicals have various industrial uses, including degreasing and the development of plastics. They are not meant for human consumption.

If you or a loved one has been affected by contamination at Camp Lejeune, fill out this contact form. An attorney can pursue fair compensation for the hardship you’ve suffered.

Who Suffered Contamination from Toxins in Camp Lejeune Water?

As a Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune houses both military service members and their families. These service members and their loved ones believed that the water they accessed at Camp Lejeune was safe—it was not. The tainted water went undetected for decades between the 1950s and 1980s, likely exposing millions to serious health problems.


Most residents at Camp Lejeune likely used this water to:

  • Bathe themselves and their children
  • Drink
  • Cook

The Timeline for Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) details the timeline of Camp Lejeune water contamination, explaining that:

  • Authorities managing Camp Lejeune did not begin to test water for the presence of certain harmful chemicals until “the early 1980s”—despite Camp Lejeune being operational since June 1941.
  • Those testing the water discovered the presence of trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE)—two chemicals central to Camp Lejeune lawsuits—by accident after testing for other chemicals.
  • It was not until 1984 that the Marine Corps began testing “some drinking water wells” in the area.
  • It was not until 1987, when federal regulations against these harmful chemicals came on the books, that more comprehensive efforts to cleanse Camp Lejeune water sources took place.

Though estimates state that contamination likely began in 1953, this is merely an estimate. Because comprehensive testing did not begin until the 1980s, you may be eligible to take legal action if you lost a loved one who resided at Camp Lejeune at any time before 1987.

How Did the Water at Camp Lejeune Become Contaminated?

Per the USMC, improper disposal of industrial waste caused water contamination at Camp Lejeune. More specifically, the polluted water resulted from:

  • Improper industrial waste disposal on Camp Lejeune (by the military itself)
  • Leaking “storage tanks” of dangerous chemicals on Camp Lejeune (another hazard that appears to be the fault of the U.S. Marine Corps)
  • Improper waste disposal practices by an off-base dry cleaning service

Ultimately, the United States is responsible for the quality of the water on its bases.

What Could Have Prevented the Widespread Poisoning of Camp Lejeune Residents?

All lawsuits against the United States government (and other defendants) will focus on negligence. A specific question that attorneys will answer is, “How could the U.S. government have prevented such widespread contamination for such a long period of time?”.

Your attorney may suggest that authorities could have:

  • Conducted more routine, comprehensive testing of drinking water from an earlier date
  • Safely disposed chemicals on the base
  • Checked on the status of stored chemicals, ensuring that the tanks weren’t leaking into local water sources (as we now know that they were)
  • Connected widespread health problems among Camp Lejeune residents to possible toxins in the water

The fact is that residents at Camp Lejeune were exposed to life-threatening toxins without warning. It appears that liability for this exposure falls upon the U.S. government. 

Who Is Eligible to Pursue Legal Action Because of Poisoning

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) explains that it may accept disability claims from veterans who resided at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 consecutive days between August 1953 and December 1987. These criteria are only for those seeking VA disability benefits—the criteria for starting or joining a Camp Lejeune lawsuit may be less rigid.

You could qualify for a Camp Lejeune lawsuit if you:

  • Lived as a service member’s dependent at Camp Lejeune prior to the detection and eradication of contaminated water (in December 1987)
  • Served in the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune prior to the eradication of toxic water
  • Lost a loved one who may have been sickened by the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune

If you have even an inkling that you have suffered because of contamination in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water, speak with an attorney. You should do your due diligence, as you may qualify for compensation to cover healthcare and other damages.

What Health Problems Have Resulted from the Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune?

VA currently recognizes various health conditions related to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Those ailments and related symptoms are:

Female Infertility

MedlinePlus defines infertility as “not being able to get pregnant after at least one year of trying (or six months if the woman is over age 35)”. If you or your loved one has had difficulty conceiving, then it may be related to ingesting the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. 

Miscarriage

If you or a loved one has suffered one or more miscarriages since exposure to polluted water at Camp Lejeune, you may have a case against the U.S. government. Miscarriages can be extremely traumatic, and you deserve justice for any avoidable trauma you’ve endured.

Several Cancers

Several cancers have links to unsafe drinking water, including:

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes, which National Cancer Institute (NCI) explains is a group of cancers affecting the patient’s bone marrow

VA recognizes each of these cancers as a possible result of Camp Lejeune poisoning. If you or a loved one developed any cancer after living at Camp Lejeune during the relevant time frame, you may deserve coverage for medical costs and other losses.

Neurobehavioral Effects 

The Review of VA Clinical Guidance for the Health Conditions Identified by the Camp Lejeune Legislation identifies several neurobehavioral effects linked to the water at Camp Lejeune, including:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Sensory problems
  • Headaches
  • Changes in motor function

Though the report did not directly link conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease to contaminated water, there could still be some connection. It is worth discussing such conditions with your attorney and doctor.

Renal Toxicity 

Renal toxicity occurs when the kidneys are not able to filter and remove toxins from the blood. This condition may ultimately lead to renal failure, both acute and chronic. Chronic renal failure may require you to undergo dialysis, as the NCI explains. Such kidney problems may contribute to one’s death.

Scleroderma

Mayo Clinic explains that scleroderma is a group of diseases that affect your skin. Symptoms of scleroderma may also affect the gastrointestinal tract, blood vessels, and internal organs. They are unique to each patient, but they may significantly diminish their quality of life in most cases. 

If you or a loved one is currently suffering from any of these health problems, you may receive compensation for your expenses and non-economic damages. If you’ve lost a loved one to one of these ailments, you may also receive a financial recovery for wrongful death damages.

What Kinds of Recoverable Damages Do Camp Lejeune Poisoning Victims Have?

Every victim of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has a unique set of damages and a personal story to tell. An attorney will speak with you and your doctors to understand your health condition and related damages.

Your recoverable damages may include:

Medical Expenses for a Contamination-Related Condition

Discuss your health problems with an attorney, even if VA doesn’t list your ailment. A connection to your time at Camp Lejeune may entitle you to recover compensation for:

  • Medical imaging
  • Individual doctors appointments
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy 
  • Hospitalization
  • In-home caregiver services
  • Medical equipment
  • Medications 
  • Any other treatments for cancer or other Camp Lejeune-related ailments

The conditions linked to toxins at Camp Lejeune are extremely serious—life-threatening in many cases. Serious health problems often lead to expensive medical bills. The U.S. government or other liable parties may cover all such costs.

Pain and Suffering 

Pain and suffering is a common damage among victims of Camp Lejeune’s water contamination. Any time someone experiences a serious health problem, they and their loved ones may:

  • Become depressed
  • Be unable to engage in normal exercise routines, social lives, and other aspects of daily life
  • Experience suicidal thoughts
  • Suffer immense grief, especially if the health condition is fatal
  • Lose their quality of life

Your attorney may secure compensation for counseling, medications, and other treatments that could help you or your loved ones.

Lost Income and Other Professional Damages

Serious health problems often stop the patient from working. If you’re not working or have reduced your hours, then you may lose income and other professional benefits. 

Other professional damages may include lost bonuses, lost employer-matched retirement benefits, and loss of progress within one’s field. 

Damages Specific to Wrongful Death

If your loved one passed away from a health condition linked to Camp Lejeune, recoverable damages may include:

  • Loss of spousal companionship
  • Loss of parental guidance
  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost financial support
  • The loss of the decedent’s value to your household
  • Pain and suffering (of both the decedent and surviving loved ones)

An attorney can explain which loved ones are eligible to pursue a wrongful death claim.

What to Do If You Are (or Could Be) a Victim of Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune

If you suspect that a health problem is related to Camp Lejeune, speak with a personal injury attorney. They can usually review your case at no cost. An attorney will also ensure you’re receiving medical care for your ailments. They’ll help you document that care, which is a crucial step in cases like yours. 

With an attorney on your side, you can focus on your health—the most important thing. Your lawyer will handle the legal aspects of your case, like:

  • Gathering the facts about their client’s health condition: Your lawyer will obtain medical records.
  • Enrolling you in the proper lawsuit: You may join an existing class action lawsuit, or your lawyer may go over other legal options available to you.
  • Handling the daily responsibilities of your case: From communicating with the courts to submitting paperwork and monitoring the status of your case, an attorney’s job is to move the case forward.
  • Hiring experts: Experts may be a great benefit to your case, especially with issues of environmental contamination and serious diseases being relevant. Your attorney may pay the cost of hiring such experts.
  • Fighting for the right outcome: Your lawyer will fight for a settlement or judgment that covers your losses. You may have other plaintiffs in your class action, and the recovery could be a large sum.

Recent Legislation Is Opening the U.S. Government to Liability

For decades, it has been difficult for victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination to get justice. The legislation made the U.S. government largely immune from liability due in part to North Carolina statutes.

Recently, American legislators passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which allows victims of water contamination on the base to pursue fair compensation for their losses. This legislation makes it clear: attorneys can seek compensation for victims like you.

You should not wait to contact a law firm about joining a class action lawsuit. You have waited long enough for the financial reparations you deserve and don’t have to wait any longer.

Fill Out the Contact Form to Get Legal Help Today

An attorney is ready to move your Camp Lejeune lawsuit forward, so fill out this contact form

and await a response. 

The U.S. government has admitted its wrongdoing and is ready to compensate victims fairly for the harm they’ve suffered. Don’t wait to get the justice you and your loved ones deserve.